Thursday, March 12, 2015

Everyday Is A 'Women's Day' In 'Fashion And Advertising'

The mammoth overdrive that International Women’s Day advertising puts out can make anyone barf with disgust. What really is Women’s Day? Who started it and what purpose does it serve? 

Some women get flowers from their male work mates. Some women get together for a girl’s lunch. My postman rang the doorbell on Monday morning to wish me ‘Happy Women’s Day’ for the day before. I am a very polite girl or I would have said “buzz off” in Marathi.

Every day is Women’s Day in fashion and advertising. More than any two businesses, these are the two that are almost entirely driven by women all year round and possibly since the beginning of time.

Designer clothes and merchandise alone amount to a multi-billion dollar industry. But if commercial beauty products and high-street apparel are considered, the world is the woman’s oyster. In advertising, whether it is cars, cereal, home loans or deodorant, the cause and effect are related via women.

The last few years have been the strongest crusaders for women’s empowerment in every sphere. Fashion and media are trying to change the world.

Among the biggest newsmakers is fashion’s relationship with Photoshop and real women. Promoted by various American groups, the fashion industry’s latest trend is to promote women as they really are. Many ad campaigns are using full-figured models as their faces. Levi’s Curve ID comes out with a selection of jeans that fit all sorts of shapes. Rick Owens sends out not-slim women on his runway.

Cindy Crawford, considered among the most beautiful women of the world even at 50, leaks a picture of herself that is not airbrushed and tech-corrected, showing a wrinkled belly and much cellulite. American writer and intellectual Joan Didion, aged 80, is the model and muse for Celine’s newest campaign. And Chantelle Winnie, a model with vitiligo white skin patches is the new face of Diesel.

Dove has been promoting its ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, a series of photos of regular full-size women with wrinkles and freckles. But it’s their latest ‘Love Your Curls’ ads, selling a shampoo for curly haired women (mainly African Americans) that seems more sincere.

The most heart-breaking commercial is Vogue India’s ‘Vogue Empower’ TVC. It shows a young boy through his growing years urged to be tough by his parents, and not cry on the first day of school or when injured in a game. As a grown up, he is shown twisting the arm of a woman with a black eye. The message goes from ‘boys don’t cry’ to ‘boy’s don’t make girls cry’ rather brutally. Keeping up with the theme against domestic violence, top designer Manish Malhotra is presenting a special show at the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week.

I especially love the Bournvita commercials. The first one a few years ago showed a young mum who raced with her athlete son in a bid to train him, with the dialogue saying: “A mum is the one who teaches you good habits”. There was no father in the picture at all, almost as if she were a single mother. Bournvita’s new and updated avatar sees a swimming mum who ties up her leg when her champion son has a fracture. It is sweet, if sentimental.

A hat tip for Star Sports ‘Check Out My Game’ campaign that has various women athletes of India doing what they do best, and raising a stink against eve-teasing. “Check out my uppercut,” says Mary Kom. “Check out my serve,” says Saina Nehwal. “If you want to check me out, check out my game” goes the tagline, to an absolutely delightful effect.

The ladies are where they should be — always in style.

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