Versace hired Lady Gaga for advertising purposes. Everything in it's right place at first sight: a luxury brand hires famous singer to promote its product. Now step back, and think about it for a second...Lady Gaga...Versace targeting Lady Gaga fans...luxury...wait. Something's wrong.
Indeed, up until the late 90ies, luxury brands were acting like luxury brands: they were out of reach for 95% of the population, and promoted in very targeted ways. For example, have you ever seen an Aston Martin ad lately? I bet you haven't. Last time I saw one with in a luxury real estate magazine targeting buyers of >$5M properties in the lobby of the large corporation I also work for. But the difference between clothing brands the likes of Versace and a car manufacturer, is that if you put an Aston Martin logo on a 4 cylinder diesel car, good luck trying to sell it more than $30k. On the other hand, put a Versace, Dolce and Gabbana or Vuitton badge on pretty much anything, and you have a $1000 product.
All those brands realized that their name only was an asset from which they could squeeze money out, and therefore created sub-brands with the house name on it, with a price tag that it way to high for what they sell, yet accessible by a middle class customer willing to live on credits.
For example, you can get a Armani Exchange coat for 600, but this is a not real Armani product in the true historical heritage of what Armani is: a super premium tailor with fine Italian design. A real Armani coat will still cost thousands, all you get here is brand identity. Same stock owners, same firm, but a totally different line of products that are here just to leverage brand equity.
I don't know about you, but when I go for a luxury brand, I go at it because the product is exceptional. The power of the brand should be a consequence of the later only, not it's main strength. I also tend to despise luxury brands who prostitute their name like this. To me they lost their status the day they started selling to MTV addicted douchebags.
But back to Versace and LadyGaga. The point is: the way this ad was done is at the image of what I described and who it's aiming at: cheap and fake. First of all, the "celebrity". Fading away fame with a weak set up and a bad photographer. The only person who worked hard is the graphic designer who photoshopped the hell out of everything. He is probably the one who leaked that, unless it's an other of those marketing "without make up" stunts.
This is what photography as turns into in the field of advertising: selling thin air, by people like Richardson who frankly can't do shit with a camera, with celebrities that were force fed to the mass. I mean, they don't even make the effort of putting on make up and doing lighting correctly! This proves that they go like "let's shot stuff and bobby will photoshop the crap out of it". It's a draft for the graphic designer at best, so that he knows where the edges are.
This is why I almost never talk about fashion photography on this blog, because it's mostly a joke, as opposed to reporters, art photographers and others. If you want to be a fashion photographer one day in the future, below average skills will do just fine. All you need is networking, friends, networking and more connected friends.
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