Reading fashion advertising

This image is a coloured photograph, in which is portrayed a woman. She is sitting down, semi-naked, covered only by a white shirt and a bowler hat. She wears a chained necklace. She looks straight at the camera. With one hand she holds the hat, while she keeps the other hand close to her body, on the floor. A small part of her breast is revealed from under the hat. On a black background two strong lights. In front of her there is a bottle of perfume, off centred. The light is much stronger on her face than on her body. There is as well some text: the name of the brand, the name of the perfume and the name of a website.
The photograph is an advertisement for CocoMadmoiselle, a Chanel perfume, taken by the photographer Dominique Issermann in 2007. The model is the actress Keira Knightley. The purpose of this photograph is to sell, function emphasized by the presence of the written message, the name of the website: More than this, the presence of the imperative form of the verb ‘’to shop’, ‘Shop’, informs the viewer that the image she/ he sees has the function of selling. So, the consumer will be persuaded to buy, not only by the visual message, but by the linguistic text as well. Perfume ads ‘can give no real information about the product so that the function…rests totally on making a connection with an image drawn from outside the ad world’ (Wiliamson in Marris). Here the denoted image implies no code (‘this is the case of the advertising photograph’).
Even if in this specific photograph there are symbols carried along with the meaning of the image, they lose some of their significations when being included in the context of advertising.  Still, some interpretation analysis can be done. The white shirt represents the presence through absence of the man. The bowler hat develops interpretations which arise from the existence of the film The UnbearableLightness of Being, based on a novel written by Milan Kundera, where one of the characters is a naked woman with a bowler hat. ‘Objects of play and eroticism, hats can evoke everything from the menacing to the seductive’ (Ronnberg). The lights in the background frame the stage she performs on, as an actress in the real life and as a star in the photographic message. Being a celebrity, she is represented in this ad as a woman who plays a role. Although her pose is static, there is a feeling of visual activity. 
Playful, the woman looks at the man present beyond the camera. This advertising doesn’t necessarily create new meanings, but translates the ‘image’ of Keira Knightley into something meaningful. 

No comments: