Taking into account the back story of my recent love affair with Diane Von Furstenberg which began with a surprise vintage wrap dress purchase (and has since spiraled out of control, hence the over-analyzation of everything they do), I felt disappointed and a disconnect upon encountering the Fall/Winter 2013-14 campaign.
To the point of being detrimental, the accessories take center stage in almost every ad. Juxtaposing electric purple leather with a questionably gilded logo treatment transforms this into something more in line with a GUESS ad. I didn’t realize that this fact can translate to print, but gold can easily look cheap. And cheap it looks. Which sets the tone and moves you along to notice a disheveled model in an expensively unkempt ensemble. (The sequence of navigating these ads might be different for other people, but I always give weight to fonts.)
We see that you now do handbags. Attention timeless, iconic brands: Don’t abandon what you do well. DVF is a classic, nostalgic, sophisticated apparel brand famous for the wrap dress…that also now makes handbags. It seems as though the editorial director wanted to take these looks into more urban-professional, but still knows how to party territory. Visually, this means the prints contrast more, the color saturation is cranked up on every photo, the setting is US metropolis and the fast pace of city life is underlined by blurred background lights … and did I mention, they now do handbags?
The girl is workin’ hard for the money, feeling fierce as she struts in her “take me seriously-but-I’m-still sexy” ensemble. The only problem is…. she has no friends and she seems lost. I mean, where is this woman? The street shots remind me of the financial districts in NYC/SF or Chicago on weekend evenings – desolate, dark, and depressing. No setting for a woman carrying a bright purple bag.
You almost want to ask her if she knows where she is going or if she needs help – is she lost? Perhaps she could be more aware of her surroundings if she removed her sunglasses… She finally seeks refuge in the lobby bar of a luxury hotel near by, and feeling comforted by the tourists, proceeds to order one too many cocktails to stave off those feelings of awkward aloneness that inevitably surface when drinking solo.
All bets of maintaining intellectual conversations are off once girlfriend hits the floor and assumes spread-eagle position. Who needs friends when you have your trusted purple leather handbag to guard your lady parts?
A simple google search reveals what was surely the basis for the agency/editor’s creative process and inspiration: Diane von Furstenberg herself. Some of the new campaign images are literal representations of existing photos from yesteryear Diane – down to the polka-dotted tights. But there’s a huge fall out in the translation. What is lost is the subtle sophistication that dvf pulls off in every photo despite wearing bold, graphic and sometimes mixed prints (and despite the sunglasses at night). Diane doesn’t need funnel the viewer’s eye to her crotch with a strategically placed bag. She is not going for obvious-sexy like the 2013 version. You don’t want to ask her if she is lost, you want to go where she is going. As a result, I would buy everything that Diane touches in these photos and most of them are in black and white. That is a powerful image.
My unsolicited advice. Change the abandoned/urban setting. Ease up on the color saturation and remember what concept led to generation of these ads in the first place – nostalgia. Stay true to the power of the wrap dress which says “I am put-together and all I did was tie one sash.” Let the clothes, model and styling speak for itself and stick within the brand’s own definition of sexy. And give the girl some friends. Diane is social, outspoken and a powerful leader. That is what women want to see from her ads and feel while wearing her clothing.