Monday, December 28, 2009

Girls with Pearl Handbags; or Rembrandt van Vuitton: Louis Vuitton Ads Featuring Young Ingenues Reference Old Masters

Have you seen the new Louis Vuitton “old master” ads?

They feature a Scarlett Johanssen lookalike (to the right), a Natalie Portman doppelganger (below) and a Johnny Depp wannabee (far below), each plying his or her craft to a new piece of LV leather.

I think that the ads are beautiful (though I’m annoyed that I made a celebrity connection with the models; a Vermeer or Rembrandt reference on its own would have been perfect).

And although they provide a phantastic image of what goes on in the LV “factories,” (advertising does sell dreams, after all), the connection that these ads make among the handmade, the individual craftsperson, art, and LV may be compelling.

However, rather than being inspired to rush out to a LV boutique, I’m looking forward to cutting a piece of leather, stitching my own fabric, or taking up a paint brush again.

Such are the collateral effects of strong advertising, I suppose. What would Don Draper say? (Or better yet: Peggy Olson?)


Belle de Ville said...

LV always has had interesting ads, but like you, they don't make me want to purchase the product.

Make Do Style said...

Peggy Olsen of course! They are great ads but I agree the doppelgänger bit is a tad annoying.

TheCluelessCrafter said...

I haven't seen these ads. What publications have you seen them in (Harpers, Vogue)?

I am really intrigued by the craft element that is working its way into high end advertisements. Tiffany & co. has also been expounding on the virtues of the handmade and the aura of the singular.

It seems that marketers are remaking the role of the consumer into one that doesn't purchase blindly, but rather creates the image or meaning of the product through their purchase. Better said, the consumer through the act of a financial transaction imbues the product with greater meaning. The product isn't whole until it is in the consumer's hand.

Shoddily explained, but my wheels are turning. What do you think?

Miss Cavendish said...

Hi Lydia,

I saw the ads featuring the two women in the Sunday New York Times just before and after Christmas.

I absolutely get what you're saying. If I can dabble in Marxist and Foucauldian theories for a moment, the ads encourage a worker (craftsperson) who is *not* alienated from his/her product (for these bags are not made on assembly lines, but lovingly, one at a time) as well as a consumer who makes meaning through her/his (thoughtful) purchase and use, similar to how a reader (not the author) makes meaning in a text. Indeed, the text is incomplete without a reader's interpretation; the bag is a hollow vessel without its owner to confer meaning upon it via a purchase.

All very fruitful ideas you're raising, I think . . .

TheCluelessCrafter said...

Yes, these are ads of empowerment through labor, exalting the handmade and by proxy those who participate in(and purchase)the handmade.

The spiritual stillness of Vermeer is both troubling and appropriate. The sweat is taken out of labor, cleansed and deified. Is this a true vision of craft? On the other, Vermeer painted in an era of burgeoning capitalism, a period when craft and machinofacture come head to head. These ads are playing off this loaded imagery, no doubt?

This topic leaves me breathless.

TheCluelessCrafter said...

What I meant in the above is that capitalism and craft (the idea of the mass produced versus the singular) were coming head to head. What I didn't mean to imply was that this is the era of the Industrial Revolution!