And this is the man.
And this is my favourite ad campaign of the moment, fashion brand French Connection’s autumn collection. The stars of the campaign are the nameless “Man” and “Woman” in a combination of jaunty, suggestive, humorous and typical Blue Steel-esque poses with quirky one-liners. I admit, they do tickle me.
French Connection first made a big name for themselves when they rebranded with their acronym of French Connection UK: FCUK. I was around 14, and that was back when swearing wasn’t as common place as it is now. So fcuk at once allowed us to use a near-swear word, and one that meant sex. Even at the tender age of 14 I remember loving it, a lot. I proudly cut out and stuck up the “fcuk. my place now” sign on my bedroom door (oh to be a teenager again and use my bedroom walls as the canvas for my angst and hormones.)
fcuk have remained off my in-built advertising-antenae for a while since this first big hit, and they are a shop that until recently I haven’t shopped in much. But this recent campaign is the sole reason I perked up my ears, picked up my wallet, and ventured into the store. I respect their humourful approach, and adore the combination of fashion-in-your-face with tongue-in-cheek “you want to be these beautiful people, don’t you?” attitude they have taken.
Because, really, everyone wants to be The Man and The Woman. The ads portray them as characters, with stereotyped characteristics, embodying the trends of the moment in a far more subtle way than other high street stores. The Woman is delicate, refined, her words are in small letters. She is demure, teasing, glittering in sequins, glamorous but understated. The Man is bold, assertive, even “angered”, a Wolf, everything the word ‘man’ in lumberjack shirts and untamed beard should be. (Reminiscent of Calvin Klein’s fragrance launched last year, MAN.)
And the most noticeable, yet so subtle it goes unnoticed, aspect is that the Woman and the Man are, respectively, too ellusive and alluring, too sultry and sullen, to speak. Instead, a third voice tells us about them. They are important enough to be narrated about. Unnamed, voiceless and magnicifent, don’t you wish you could be them?
On a surface level, to look at, the ads are beautifully shot (by the same cinematographer who worked on the lavish A Single Man – Eduard Grau). And there’s something quite refreshing about a grizzled, unshaven man as opposed to either the clean-cut officeman or too-tight-trousered trendsters.
On a subconscious level, the nameless everyWoman and everyMan tell us what we should also like to do and want to look like. Let’s face it, all fashion and beauty advertising does this, gives us a subconcious impression of how we could look just so we can buy the product in an attempt at imitation. But this ad is so subtle and yet explicit about this – “here is the Woman. Look at the Woman. Don’t you want to be the Woman? Look at her dazzle. Dazzle like the Woman.” – that it stands out because of it, and it works.
Well, it certainley worked on me. The first piece of my winter wardrobe has been acquired – a cute little golden top number – and I’m now eyeing up those coats. After all, the Woman is Preparing for Winter.
The full campaign, with shoot log and videos, on frenchconnection.com