Power to the picture

Twitter, Facebook, viral videos ... new ways of spreading the word are becoming more important to luxury brands, but the traditional print and poster campaign is still a critical vehicle for conveying a label’s core message for the new season. “You don’t need to compare classic ad campaigns with social media but instead discover how they can work effectively together to create the best brand message,” says Emma Hill, creative director at Mulberry.

Michael Kors remarks: “Methods of print advertising are still very important today, but we also share our ad images in outdoor settings, as well as on digital, mobile and social media platforms.” Since campaigns are seen by more people than ever, the pressure is on to make them powerful. But which brands are succeeding?

1. Moncler

Disregarding the advice that you should never work with animals, this Moncler model has bravely posed with a couple of polar bears – or at least models in furry costumes. It’s cute, but what is it saying? Hang loose in Moncler’s feather down jackets without getting frostbite? Switch off that ice-cap-melting central heating and reach for a puffer jacket? Remo Ruffini, chairman and creative director of Moncler, explains: “The latest campaign supports the non-profit organisation Green Chimneys, a leader in animal-assisted therapy for kids that also provides care for animals and nature.” Practical, philanthropic puffers – that’s the message.

2. Louis Vuitton

Given Louis Vuitton’s core as a luggage company, this vision of luxury travel, shot by Steven Meisel, is as on-brand as it gets. An appealing message: buy a Vuitton bag and step back to a pre-Ryanair golden age of travel. Don’t tell me those models have decanted all the liquids inside their “it” hand luggage into clear plastic bags for security. It certainly hasn’t been done on the cheap – the train was specially built for the Paris catwalk show in March, then replicated in a New York studio – but they can probably afford it. In July, the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy group reported a 28 per cent jump in net income to €1.7bn for the first half of 2012.

3. Alexander McQueen

Shot by David Sims, the McQueen campaign has been designed to showcase the artistry and imagination of the label’s dresses, its unique selling point. The ads run over a spread with a black-and-white close-up of a dress on one side and a full-length in colour on the other. The sharp origami shape on which the model stands, combined with her minimal make-up and bleached-out hair, highlight the extravagant and organic fantasy of the dresses. One resembles a rose made of pink mille feuille silk, the other a feathery puffball. You would never guess that the collection was inspired by mushrooms.

4. Pucci

Given the amount of whimsy and nostalgia around this season, it’s good to see a sultry ad from Pucci. For the brand’s first ever campaign they’ve summed up the house’s DNA (prints, sex, heritage, Italy) with a patterned-silk clad Amber Valletta sprawled on a couch and a hint of noir via moody lighting. Subtle? No. Seductive? Yes.

5. Mulberry

Fashion is fun. That’s the message behind Mulberry’s campaigns. The monsters that inspired the catwalk show appear in this season’s campaign, which depicts the doll-like model Lindsey Wixson in a fairytale forest clutching Mulberry’s latest arm candy, and surrounded by giant furry creatures. They seem friendly, but for how long, since Wixson is wearing a series of shaggy coats that look like monster fur? Emma Hill says the ad “plays on the romance and darkness of children’s fairytales, with mysterious creatures and the idea of travel, fantasy and beauty. The icing on the cake is Tim Walker shooting the campaign; he creates a strong, rich narrative and the right mix of charm, romance and darkness.” It’s playful on the surface, while stirring subconscious fears, memories and desires – not least the urge to rush out and buy a new handbag.

6. Lanvin

“It’s all about individuals with individuality,” Alber Elbaz has said of the new Lanvin fashion campaign, which uses “real” people or, as the rest of the “real” world knows them, people who aren’t models. It’s a smart approach: not only are street-style blogs attracting as much interest as the catwalk, but when globalisation threatens uniqueness, a sense of character is appealing. Lanvin’s image is of a brand that caters to women of different ages and sizes (ie not just size zero) and these characters – aged 18 to 81 and found through a street casting in New York – capitalise on that. A video of the shoot was released this week, in which the hitherto anonymous models reveal quirky elements of their personalities.

7. Michael Kors

A fur-trimmed wool coat and chunky jumper worn with sunglasses on a bright LA day? This isn’t Michael Kors’ suggestion on how to regulate your body temperature this autumn, but his manifesto for glamour. Kors says of the campaign, shot by Mario Testino, that it “fuses together two of my most cherished themes: jetset style and Hollywood glamour. The images draw inspiration from the backlots of golden-age Hollywood.

“The contrast of them [models Karmen Pedaru and Simon Nessman] being both youthful and sophisticated, super-glamorous and approachable, all at the same time is very Michael Kors,” says Kors, whose tight brand image helped him launch the biggest-ever initial public offering in US fashion last December. This campaign sticks to the script as religiously as an eager-to-please starlet.

8. Miu Miu

Fashion’s David Bowie moment continues this season, thanks to the Miu Miu campaign. Cross Bowie with a cord-wearing university lecturer and a garish suburban sofa, all from the 1970s, and you’ve got the look. It takes a brave soul to wear so much clashing print – although indie actress Chloë Sevigny, who also appeared in a Miu Miu campaign in 1996, might plausibly do so – but then this ad broadcasts that Miu Miu is all about determinedly offbeat dressing and taking risks. There’s not much mise-en-scène, just a shag-pile carpet and a modernist chair, because this isn’t a lifestyle brand like Armani or Michael Kors. Designer Miuccia Prada is about pure fashion for fashion’s sake.

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