Have you ever imagined what a child’s imagination would look like if it came to life? What if a child’s imaginary friend sprung from their head and began to dance around the room? That was the beauty of Viktor & Rolf’s spring 2016 couture show. Childhood memories came out to dance and play among the very adult world of fashion. Unfortunately, in today’s fashion world, we rarely get to see whimsy and childhood charm walk the runway. Designers have created brands and taken them from the realm of imagination into the realm of industry, creating an engine hell-bent on pumping the world with constant doses of trends, fast fashion, and see-now-buy-now collections whose sole purpose is profit, not wonder.
Luckily for fashion lovers around the world, the haute couture house of Viktor & Rolfhas for years been associated with design that reaches beyond traditional fashion. While some houses’, like Chanel’s or Dior’s, primary focus was to modernize tradition, Viktor & Rolf are renowned for reinventing traditional haute couture values rather than modernizing of something that has been held dearly.
Viktor & Rolf have created a brand that delves into some of Europe’s most important design niches. On one hand, V&R embraces deconstruction; they embrace the art of taking a garment apart and putting it back together in new and exciting ways. On the other hand, the brand is also deeply rooted in detail and high fashion prestige. This intense marriage of raw design and refined beauty encompassed their spring 2016 couture show. It was a dance between the cut and paste imagination of a child and the rigidness and simplicity of adult life.
When we first see the collection, the clothing presented seem simple enough. A utilitarian shirtdress with a few paste on appliqués in white. A secret sprinkled here and there. Soon after, the dresses become more elaborate and more abstract. Audiences are left watching as the imagination of a child takes a simple idea and allows it to grow and blossom into something far more magical than just a cut out of an eye on a dress.
As the collection progresses, the dreams of a child’s unchained mind come face to face with the stern rules of adult life. But the clash of the two isn’t what makes this collection so memorable. It’s the sheer dominance nostalgia and childhood imagination have over our adult lives. Even though the collection still adheres to its strict couture guidelines, the childhood dream world that began as a simple eye on a stark white dress grew into something more extravagant — something far more important than just fashion. The idea that Viktor & Rolf wanted to get had more to do with the flame of wonder that is ignited in childhood never truly going out than trying to parade models around in towering polo shirt totem poles for the sake of “fashion.” For both Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, creating fashion for the sake of fashion doesn’t seem to be the name of the game. Bringing dreams to life by taking inspiration from the world around them has always been the motive and lesson at V&R couture. And it’s a lesson in creativity all future designers should be listening too.
Ad campaigns have long been a brand’s first line of offence when it comes to exposure. Unlike social media advertising and TV spots, print campaigns aim at catching the attention of specific groups of people, usually fashion lovers or potential clientele. This strategy is called the rifle strategy. Rather than using a shotgun strategy to shoot out your content for everyone to see, like social media media advertising does. Rifle strategies aim at eliminating wasted resources by targeting people who are more likely to buy what they see in the magazines they’ve bought or skimmed through.
But enough about the technical about the technical side fashion ads. Let’s get to the part we all love; the fashion! Now brands, their designers, and their holding companies don’t spend a ridiculous amount of money, time, and effort to just for fun. There’s an artistic vision behind every photo that’s taken. It isn’t just about slapping something pretty on a pretty model. It’s about telling a story, painting a complete picture of the collection that will make you want it so much, you’ll buy it! With that said, not all campaigns end up being works of advertising art. Sure they make get the job done, but in the end, they just end up being ads. However, there are some ads that do much more than just sell a brand’s product. They transcend traditional print ads and become works of art on their own. Here’s a list of some of 2016’s greatest print campaigns.
Missoni Fall/ Winter 2016
Have you ever wondered what a modern day water sprite would look like? Missoni must have wondered the same thing too. In their fall 2016 campaign, model Frederikke Sofie stars as a delicate, yet completely intimidating free spirit that seems to just rise out of the water like pure magic. Sofie’s curly hair blowing in the wind, mixed with the easiness of Missoni’s iconic knits, only helped add a sense of ethereal beauty to the campaign.
Salvatore Ferragamo Fall/ Winter 2016
Who knew a static portrait could be so alluring? Model Ming Xi is accompanied by Ine Neefs and Valery Kaufman in this photo by photographer Craig McDean. The photo depicts all three women posed towards the camera in a stately photograph. What’s special about the photo is it’s simplicity. It manages to ease the uptight-rich-European woman vibe that Ferragamo is known, with an airy lightness that creates a sense of timeless elegance. Like a dominant, yet caring matriarch watching over her high fashion family.
Louis Vuitton Les Parfums
Luxury leather goods giant Louis Vuitton is probably the most recognisable brand when one thinks of luxury travel wares. So it came as no surprise that Louis Vuitton wanted to showcase its perfume as being “beyond perfume.” The Vuitton team chose to create a personal paradise for its fans. The campaign, shot by photography legend Patrick Demarchalier and starring top actress Lea Seydoux, encompasses everything that Louis Vuitton is about. Travel, the destination, and the invocation of luxury that goes beyond what traditional fashion brands can do. The tropical setting, with its dark – cascading stone waterfalls set against Lea’s ethereal perfection, create a fairy tale of a princess set free in the untamed wild.
Jacquemus Fall/ Winter 2016
Simon Porte Jacquemus has been an innovator. Since it’s debut, Jacquemus has been able to push the boundaries of what’s expected in the fashion industry. His designs are exactly the type of high fashion avant garde clothing young women want and they’re also surprisingly affordable compared to his competitors designs. And it’s in this surprisingly fresh take on design where everything else falls into place perfectly. For its fall campaign. Jacquemus sought the help of artist Willi Dorner to create a quirky and striking ad campaign that completely encompasses what Jacquemus as a brand is. The setting is simple, a park bench located somewhere is Paris or a in a small French town maybe. The backdrop looks very pedestrian, until you see what’s on the bench. Just like Jacquemus itself, the seemingly normal is made abnormal. A jumble of models wearing Simon’s designs are seen huddled together to create a human ball. And that’s the fun of it. That’s what Jacquemus stands for. Understanding the love people have for things that are beautiful, yet slightly off.
Gucci (All of them)
It seems that Alessandro Michele’s influence at Gucci extends far beyond the clothing and accessories. This year, fashion lovers were treated to a surprise at Gucci. The iconic brand, once known for its mature and distinctly Italian flare, underwent a total overhaul. Designers were changed and brand images were reworked, resulting in a fresh and whimsical take on the brand that’s won over the hearts of young luxury enthusiasts around the world. But it didn’t stop there, if Gucci had to change order image, it had to change everything about its image. In turn, the fashion world was treated to a year long ad campaign that fused 70s style camera work with the sugary perfection of a Sofia Coppola movie. Models posed alongside slot machines and Japanese geishas with the words “relentless buzzing sound” and “whispers lost in wind” as subtitles, while other models danced among a sea of bubbles (“pop”) and a pair of Gucci pumps on a motorcycle (“sirens in distance”). Which created the perfect atmosphere for Alessandro Michele’s Gucci. Like a daydream that may have been reality. Gucci encompasses the dreams of the here and now.
Although not a print ad, there really wasn’t any other option than adding this gem of a campaign from H&M. What do a lot of people do during the holiday season? They travel of course. And H&M and director Wes Anderson want you know that they get that. They understand the dread of driving hours on end to see your parents or having to hop on a train to visit loved ones. So why not make the dreaded holiday commute a fashion wonderland. Like a quirky polar express, fans of the Swedish fashion giant are treated to candy coloured locomotive paradise. The walls look like candied chocolate; the outfits, like sparkly little cake toppers. The beauty of this campaign is it not only feed into shoppers need for holiday outfits, but it also subconsciously feeds into our need to want the cutest and sparkliest things we can buy for the holidays, and all for H&M’s famous affordable prices.
Prada Candy Kiss
Leave it to Prada to pick one of the most in demand models of the moment to be the face of one of their best selling fragrances. Lexi Boling stars in this year’s Prada Candy Kiss campaign, which started off as an adorable take on femininity in its first run of ad and quickly blossomed into and ad made perfectly for a modern vixen. She’s sweet, yet intimidating, alluring, yet distant. She’s the woman you want, but will never have. The campaign, which was shot by famed photographer Steven Meisel, conjures up a quote from one of the greatest female poets ever, Sylvia Plath. “If the moon smiled, she would resemble you. You leave the same impression of something beautiful, but annihilating.” Which who the Prada Candy Kiss woman is, beautiful, but annihilating.
Louis Vuitton / Square Enix
Louis Vuitton appears a second time on the list with their Square Enix collaboration for Louis Vuitton’s SERIES of ads. Which aim at involving multiple artists to show their personal take on the brand in Louis Vuitton’s marketing strategy. For the Louis Vuitton SERIES 4 ad campaign. Tetsuya Nomura of Square Enix used Final Fantasy 13’s protagonist Lightning as his model. The ad campaign aimed at embracing the growing relationship between fashion and technology, while also helping further showcase the new face of Louis Vuitton. Rather using a traditional print ad, Nicolas Ghesquiere incorporates his love of technology into the global market by presenting his designs as digital renderings. Showing the global where luxury fashion may be heading.
Raf Simons Spring/ Summer 2016
Sometimes fashion isn’t always fun and games. Sometimes bright colours and energetic photoshoots can’t encompass the story that’s being told. That must have been what Willy Vandeperre and Raf Simons had in had in mind when creating the brands spring ad campaign. The overly bleak atmosphere of the ad felt melancholic. But as many artists know, some of the most beautiful moments in art aren’t happy ones. The ads, which feature an emotionless Luca Lemaire staring off into the distance, accompanied by three different dark and brooding backdrops that seem surreal, yet eerily present throughout the campaign. There’s also a sense of freedom (or escape) within the photos themselves. The barefoot model seems animalistic, like a man who’s run from everything that the world forced him to be, but he’s far from that now. He’s one with nature and no one can take him back now.