The Tome Raider

Ah, it’s that time of year again, when the stores are stocked to the brim with new fall designer offerings, the September issues of fashion magazines are as heavy as text books, and advertising print campaigns reign supreme.

By Stephanie Rivers

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Published: Fri 20 Aug 2010, 9:49 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:23 PM

But what are they really selling us? Historically, advertising’s sole purpose is to sell an idea, a vision, or a lifestyle. Is that what fashion advertising is selling us? Well, yes and no.

With this in mind, Fashion raids the September tomes to dissect the advertorial messages, to study what they are really selling us, and grade them on their correlation between the FW runway collections and what’s in store.


When talking about the esteemed House of Chanel and the supreme master of vision, Karl Largerfeld, one is never short of accolades. How many designers and/or fashion houses command the power of having an iceberg flown in from Scandinavia for their FW fashion shows? How many collections keep getting better and better with each passing year? Rhetorical questions, as there are very few. The FW 2010 Chanel collection was part relaxed elegance, part Star Wars’ Chewbacca-inspired furs (faux fur), and part winter wonderland, Inuit-style. More fur was flung during this runway presentation than at Fendi — that’s saying something. It was a surprising and beautiful mix of woven knits with fur.

The advertising campaign for Chanel’s FW 2010 runway collection, however, takes us on a slightly different journey — fur wrapped, yes, but set it in its proper place: a gritty urban landscape. There is more of a relaxed bohemian vibe to the print ads that represent the collection, fur trousers and all. Model Freja Beha Erichsen and model-of-the-moment Abbey Lee Kershaw are perched atop a residential rooftop with the setting of downtown NYC as its backdrop. The fur trousers are present, as are the woven knits with fur fringe, fur covered booties and fur-woven minidresses.

The message? That fashion belongs any where; that fashion is indeed global, whether in Antarctica, Saigon or NYC. Both drive home that fashion is wearable, not precious, and adaptable to whatever city is your backdrop.

How do the ads correlate to what’s in store? When I was in a Chanel store, it was pre-fall with fall pieces due very shortly. What you will see are lots of the woven pieces, the de rigueur Chanel jackets, funky furs and some of their fur booties. For the Chewbacca-inspired boots, well, that may well depend on what region you’re in.

The runway to campaign to store grade? An A. One would expect no less from Kaiser Karl or Chanel.


Creative Director Marc Jacobs delivered one of the most beautiful shows of the FW 2010 season. The collection was drenched in ladylike perfection, everything elegant, feminine and pared down to the simplest of elements. It welcomed the return of real women and curves, a subject I have waxed soliloquies on many times before. The show also saw the return of many former supermodels who showed that age is just a number and not a true factor in beauty, style or grace. Cinched waists, bustiers, full skirts with box pleats, fur chubbies, stacked heeled bow-topped shoes and gloves.

The FW 2010 ad campaign shows us more of the same, in a more intimate setting — a dressing room. There is soft, diffused lighting, a light sepia-tone effect and ladylike panache. The campaign, much like the runway show, celebrates real women and is multi-generational. We have Christy Turlington who is 40, Karen Elson who is in her 30s and the lovely Natalia Vodianova who is in her 20s.

The message? Both drive home the message of embracing who you are and loving every inch of yourself. Looking into a mirror (more so with the ad campaign) and liking what you see. Both celebrate all that a woman is — a sum of her fashionable parts.

How do the ads correlate to what is in store? Again, when I visited the LV store at the Dubai Mall, there were mostly pre-fall items with fall items due any moment. What you will see? The beauty pumps — those swoon-inducing stacked heeled, bow topped shoes, which are even lovelier in person, the long gloves in a soft napa leather with side button fastening, the quilted satchel handbags, as well as the wonderful dresses, sweaters, full skirts and great jackets.

The runway to campaign to store grade? An A+.


Frida Giannini gave Gucci’s woman a more grown up collection this time around, having hit her stride and balance. Gone was the notion of trying too hard with trend-specific items, and in their place were sophisticated, yet attractive pieces.

There were head-to-toe monotone colour ensembles, patchwork ostrich and suede coats, fitted dresses that were longer in length this season, with the short, tarty length being on the back burner. Frida also continued to work to perfection her slim fitting slacks with just enough flute kick at the hem to fit over shoes and boots.

The FW Gucci ad campaign however loosens the runway’s restraint and gives us more of the Gucci aesthetic we have come to know: a raw appeal without being too overt. Model Raquel Zimmerman and newcomer Joan Smalls recline over a luxury automobile in different states of repose, as though enraptured with both the sumptuous clothing and the beautiful, earthy desert surroundings.

The message? There is beauty in simplicity: clothing, materials and life.

How do the ads correlate to what is in store? What you see is what you will get: sumptuous fabrics, luxurious furs, great pants, go-to dresses for day, and a little va va voom for evening. Luxury automobile not included, of course.

The runway to campaign to store grade? B+


When it comes to a designer who stands apart from the crowd and sets the cacophony of misleading fashion news on its ear every season, Miucca Prada is the lone ranger. She manages to figure out what women want and how we want it put together, almost unerringly each season.

This season she, like Jacobs, embraces womanly curves. The cozy knits, the A-line skirts, the ruffles bodices, the fitted wool dresses, the ruffle-front knit rights and the ladylike pointy toe mid-heel shoes are a welcome sight. Even her line-up of models, again like Jacobs, celebrate curves. The setting had an intimate feel with darker lighting and colourful textured rugs under foot.

The Prada FW campaign carries that intimate vision forward by staging the entire campaign in a nightclub setting. Models like Angela Linvall crooned imaginary songs into the microphone, while others swayed to the music, imaginary or otherwise, in the background. The knits are highlighted, as are the patent leather purses, the ruffle-front wool dresses and the exquisite shoes.

The message? Cozy, feminine and easy elegance. Simple clothing that a woman wants to wear and feels good doing so.

How do the ads correlate to what is in store? Again, what you see is what you will get. The tapered quilted down jackets, the thin belts, the cozy oversized knits, the patent leather purses and the leather skirts and knit handbags.

The runway to campaign to store grade? An A. Beehives are optional.


Prada’s little sister sashayed to an early 1960s tune, prior to free love and Woodstock. The collection had a dollop of tarty to it with an ode to schoolgirl charm tempered with schoolmarm severity. Add in a dash of Edie Segwick, Twiggy, a touch of Lolita, a little Mary Quant, and voila! That sums up Miu Miu FW 2010.

The dress lengths were short, with perfectly placed keyhole openings, high necklines in some cases, turn lock belts and charming coats spoke. The high-voltage make-up hues (very Quant) and flippy, flirty hemlines spoke volumes about the 60s. The square toe pumps were trend spot on, as were the sleeveless dresses layered over slim fitting pants and schoolmarm sweaters and scarf neckties.

The Miu Miu FW campaign carried through the visual message to perfection. Models Lindsey, Siri, Ginta and Daphne pose and pout for the camera, giving it a photo booth feel, both in print and video. The girls were rail thin — how better to showcase the short lengths, and it’s all about the aesthetic.

The message? That schoolgirl charm coupled with sophisticated schoolmarm, with a touch of naughtiness, never goes out of style.

How do the ads correlate to what is in store? Lots of short dresses, squared toe pumps, quilted handbags (a must-have) and ladylike coats.

The runway to campaign to store grade? B-. I am a huge fan of Miucca; however, this collection, like many in the past are made for the slender few and not the masses. Even those of us who log major gym time would have to log double the time to flaunt these looks.

Save your knees and jog over to the amazing quilted handbags, the minidresses, slim trousers and the charming coats.

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