Even a quick glance at Dolce & Gabbana’s advertising campaign and it is immediately recognisable. There is no doubt that Dolce & Gabbana have continued with a similar aesthetic in mind when creating a fashion photograph. Initially their photographs appear as visual fantasies of sexual desires and eroticism. When analysing these images closer however, they give the impression of film stills and frozen moments of social interaction. Often collaborating with photographer Steven Klein it is clear that his aesthetic of cinematography in his own practice has influenced the fashion narrative of Dolce & Gabbana’s advertising. Social situations and settings are common in their photographs where elements of hierarchical power particularly come into play to promote their luxury brand. A clear example of this is depicted in the above image, where a model stands over a kneeing male ready to swing a whip. Here, the three women dressed mediate power over the two undressing males which signifies the importance of embodiment that is created by the clothing. It would seem not only from this image but many of Dolce and Gabbana’s fashion photographs that gender power plays a significant role in creating narrative to promoting their clothing, however, they often consider outside the gender norms.
Particularly when advertising for men’s wear, there is a different ambience regarding male narcissism and homoeroticism in their fashion narrative. In the first image below, a man rests his head on a mirror possibly looking at the direction of the camera through the reflection. In addition, a man behind him also looks at him in admiration. This is suggestive of theories of the gaze where the man is aware of himself being looked at (i). This occurs again further in the background of the photograph where a man is admiring himself in a hand-held mirror. Similarly to the first image, Dolce & Gabbana draw on the sense of embodiment that the luxury garments create that adds to vanity and supremacy.
Dolce & Gabbana have generated serious controversy concerning the suggestiveness of violence especially in there spring/summer 2007 ready-to-wear advertisement. The photograph sways between beauty and violence which had the advertisement banned from Italian publication for its ‘glorification of gang-rape’ (ii). On initial glance it is understandable how this image has created public dispute however it does not steer far from Dolce & Gabbana’s typical aesthetic. Again, this image touches on social power, male narcissism and even homoeroticism as suggested by the man holding the woman to the ground, while the other men watch but look more towards the male. It would seem in that sense that the woman is meaningless in the narrative. On the other hand, it is possible that she is portraying the fantasy of attracting a number of men in an ‘erotic dream’ as described by Stephano Gabbana (ii). As Phillips identifies in his article Narrative and Persuasion in Fashion Advertising, ‘grotesque imagery can lead to either narrative transportation or immersion’ (iii). It is evident that Dolce & Gabbana are using this as an advertising technique in fashion photography to engage the viewer into a visual fantasy where their luxury brand plays a critical role in determining social hegemony and embodiment.
(i) Campell, N 2007 ‘The Technological Gaze in Advertising’, Irish Marketing Review, vol.19, no.1, pp.3-18, viewed 23 August via Proquest.
(ii) ‘Dolce & Gabbana will stop using controversial ad’ 2007, Brandweek, vol.28, no.11, pg.8, viewed 24 August 2014 via Gale
(iii) Phillips, B & McQuarrie, E 2010, ‘Narrative and Persuasion in Fashion Advertising’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 37, no. 3, pp.368-392, viewed 24 August 2014 via JSTOR