Fashion is going to the cats!
Just some months back, one of Chanel’s A/W 2011 ads (below) featured a sheepish Freja Beha crouching in a photo booth pretending to be a feline. With camellias for ears, she looked like what Tevi Gevinson might wear if the latter were to dress as Catwoman for Halloween. It’s all cute and cosy, of course, but not necessarily Chanel (unless the ad was targeted at the Japanese market). All the more surprising is the fact that it was style by Carine Roitfeld, known more for “porno chic” than cutie chick.
Just as we thought we saw the last of grown women appropriating the look of cats, out comes Lara Stone and Kate Moss in the latest issue of Love (top); appearing all cheery and chummy, rather than sly and stealthy. Their kitty ears look like a Martha Stewart craft project, augmenting the girlish, BFF vibe of the overall picture, shot by Ms Moss’s BFF Mario Testino.
Which brings us to an interesting puzzler: are women more charming when they meow or when they bitch?
While it is not a public holiday here in Bangkok, Chinese New Year appears to be celebrated, among those who do, with as much festive fervour as it is in China. But when you ask many of the young Chinese-Thais what is characteristic of their celebration, the answer is often, “I don’t know.” If you press on, they’ll say, “I don’t celebrate; I have to work”. Is this why retailers here must use overtly Chinese motifs in their advertising to remind them of the arrival of the most important festival in the lunar calendar? Or do the store owners need reminding themselves?
Each year, when Chinese New Year approaches, the big stores such as Central, will put up billboards, posters and other outdoor media featuring some kind of Oriental fantasy populated by Chinese zodiac creatures of the corresponding year, set within overworked graphic elements such as frets and swirls. It is almost always exotica overload.
It is hard to convince local marketers that Chinese New Year is, for so many, also Spring Festival. Welcoming spring is not the same as Phuket’s Nine Emperor Gods festival when gaudiness has a role in summoning the divine. During Chinese New Year, flowers, too, can be symbolic, and that has more relevance in modern marketing communication than mythical beasts. No?
A local fashion designer cum blogger (not necessarily doing one better than the other) has this to say in defence of his penchant for status symbols:
“ya ya ya you can call me fashion nerd, fashion addicted, fashion genius but i’m not stupid you know. i’ve got education and i’m rich hehehe. i’m just kidding! i’m not rich but my parent does. do you guys know that Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Chanel bag never goes on sale. of cause all you fashion freak knows, and you know dame well that they made good cloths.Last year top designers have reported stellar earnings including LV. up 23 percent from 2010 to $24.3 billion in 2011. these billion-dollars valued high fashion house/company’s sales grow every year. So other than fine wine, fast car etc. these luxury goods are still the status symbols. but for me i added a little fun and smile to it okay!!”
Ignoring those annoyances that will make Lynne Truss scream, I noticed one thing about this declaration: the larger the spending, the noisier the consumption.
It is not uncommon for magazines to offer more than one cover. Two is almost the standard practice, but twelve? Check out ID‘s amazing dozen, shot to mark, as far as I can tell, Chinese New Year . I am not sure if ID is a must-read in China, but they have shown to not just the mainlanders but Asians as well that for the most important festival in the Chinese calendar, fashion images can totally avoid clichés. They can be styled with a nod to the traditional and, at the same time, with a firm embrace of the inventive and the audacious.