Luxe labels launching ever more quirky, flamboyant ad campaigns
How to stand out in today’s vast virtual ocean of videos and images? Pushed to provide more and more content for their websites and social media accounts, luxury labels seem keen to raise the stakes even further, by producing increasingly sophisticated advertising campaigns. Videos in particular are polished to a feature-film gloss, with quirky settings and flamboyant visuals.
The latest campaigns by Versace, GCDS and Gucci are cases in point, their images firmly embedding themselves in the viewers’ eyes, driving audiences to replay them again and again with their colourful characters and wistful mood. Each of these videos is steeped in a deliciously dated atmosphere, the images’ grain sometimes slightly hazy, sometimes saturated with colour, cleverly tapping the vintage trend which has been buoyant in recent years.
For example, Versace's latest Christmas campaign is a throwback to the 1980s, almost a reboot of the ‘Dynasty’ soap opera, while GCDS has clearly referenced the imagery of 1960s technicolour movies. As for Gucci, under the aegis of creative director Alessandro Michele, it has made retro aesthetics a key element of its brand image, from the collections to global advertising. Indeed, the Kering group’s leading label has pioneered this trend, creating a multi-layered, eclectic visual world within which extravagant characters and multiple eras collide, a style that many other labels are replicating in their current ad campaigns.
In this respect, Gucci’s last three advertising campaigns are exemplary. For the Spring/Summer 2019, the luxury label set its collections against the backdrop of the golden age of American musicals, inspired by masterpieces like ‘An American in Paris’, ‘Singing in the Rain’ and ‘The Band Wagon’. Photographer Glen Luchford riffed on the same theme with the Fall/Winter 2019-20 campaign, this time capturing the feel of a very special Parisian catwalk show covering the four magical fashion decades from the 1950s to the 1980s.
For the Cruise Collection 2020, Gucci chose another fascinating scenario, inviting an array of eccentric characters to an aristocratic party extravaganza hovering between Rome’s Dolce Vita and a Beverly Hills mansion. Each campaign consists of pictures and a video with a tongue-in-cheek mood and looks that are colourful and above all inclusive, unfailingly attractive to millennial consumers.
Emerging Italian streetwear label GCDS has decided to follow in the same groove. It staged a collaboration with Barilla, leading to the launch of a capsule collection and to a pink make-over of the food brand’s renowned blue pasta boxes, as a tribute to diversity. In the same vein, GCDS produced a short film, directed in Hollywood by Nadia Lee Cohen, of course themed around a pasta-based dinner.
The film’s atmosphere is both kitsch and fun, in a nod to the iconography of 1960s technicolour films, as a plethora of celebrities, from drag queens to artists and other influencers, among them Lindsey Wixson, Aweng, Anna Cleveland, Violet Chachki and Nikita Dragun, appear in a series of scenes (on the underground, in a jazz club, at the hairdresser’s or driving a convertible) as they spread the word about a very special dinner date. Sophia Loren stars as the host, announcing “è pronto!” (the food’s ready) and inviting her guests to tuck into huge plates of spaghetti.
The idea is to celebrate Italian style worldwide, with a recipe that features all the ingredients needed to catch the audience’s eye: attractive visuals, humour, celebrities, clever storytelling and an inclusive approach. By releasing short films, a format that is booming on the social media accounts of fashion labels, the latter are better able to convey emotions and make their audiences dream, broadening their appeal in the bargain. It is a way of providing an experience for potential customers, immersing them into the label’s world and emphasising its spirit.
Versace’s ‘Christmas Holiday 2019’ campaign adopts the same approach. For the occasion, Donatella Versace collaborated with London erotic magazine Baron, for which she is a guest contributor, concocting a soap-opera style story produced and directed by artist Sarah Baker, who drew her inspiration from romance novels, especially those by Jackie Collins.
The film traces the setbacks suffered by two protagonists, Angelina and The Baroness, interpreted by Sarah Baker and Danish top model Helena Christensen, in a plot thick with treachery, blackmail and assorted scandals. A saga whose characters squabble in style, clad in sexy Versace outfits straight out of a 1980s TV series.
Salvatore Ferragamo is also playing the same game, but adopting a much more understated, classic register. For Christmas, the Florentine label has released a video featuring a group of young men and women boppin it to an electro-funky beat. Very little colour, not much of a story, but the cast is clearly inclusive.
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