While perusing the thousands of pages the fall magazine issues gave us this year, one distinct trend caught my eye.
I first saw the Tommy Hilfiger spread and thought nothing of it because the format was similar to what they have been doing for some time now and it had always reminded my of the campaigns Ralph Lauren has been doing forever. Then I saw the Pepe Jeans ad and thought « weird, it reminds me of the Tommy Hilfiger visual » and as I went through Elle US, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Jalouse and many other titles I saw one frequent and very constant element in many fall ad campaigns: group photos. And not any random group of models that happen to stand next to each other in a photo studio, but photos of groups that look like friends, family, in any case people who clearly seem to have emotional ties.
For a long time, brands have used models – preferably one model at a time, also called spokesperson – to represent who they are, the ideal their customers would project themselves into. Isabella Rossellini was Lancôme’s face for so long that even today when I think of Lancôme I cannot help seeing her face, even though she has since then (the 80’s!) been replaced by a plethora of models – one of the recent ones even being her daughter Elettra. And what would Donna Karan’s successful career woman image be without Rosemary McGrotha?
Then they started using actors and celebrities and they added a certain lifestyle dimension to their brands, a certain situational element that made their brand image a bit deeper and more versatile.
Then at some point everyone wanted Kate Moss.
But in those really troubled times that seem to last longer and be even more tragic that everyone had thought, frivolity and superficial ideals have to be toned down. Sure models remain essential to depict an ideal beauty to aspire to. And some actors undoubtedly have the power to make you think that they cannot be successful or even live (George Clooney for Nespresso, anyone?) without certain products they vouch for. But somehow when the going gets tough, in the real world, there is nothing better than having friends and family to stick with. And social networks are not only Internet-based tools. For the first time in history, real social cohesion has been happening, certainly supported and facilitated by everything technology has to offer, but foremost because people have realized that if they stick together they can learn more, achieve more and certainly change things – hopefully for the better. From Wikipedia to the Arab Spring, people have managed to do things that a few years ago could not have been thought of as merely probable.
And many brands have understood this. Instead of creating a fantasy world that only can exist in someone’s imagination, they decided to show an ideal that seems to be attainable for everyone; an ideal that inextricably carries guaranteed happiness within. Because, at the end of the day, what could be a greater source of joy in life than a happy family and a circle of supportive friends? And by the way, is it surprising that one of the biggest press coverages this fall is Kate Moss’s bucolic wedding surrounded by her family and friends?
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