When first looking at Sisley’s advertising campaigns in 2007, there is an immediate distinction of a nightclub drunken scene where two slender young adults lounge over each other in a disorderly manner. The woman lying on the left tilts her head up slightly to catch the spilling wine in her mouth while the woman on the right is on the verge of passing out. Observing closer at the detail of the image however, suddenly it becomes clear that the illusion of the split wine is a red cloth. Similarly in another Sisley advertisement two young women imply sniffing drugs when in fact the straps of a white garment lies on the table in the shape of a cocaine line. It is evident that both images are using the idea of alcohol and drug addiction replaced by clothing to suggest the ‘fashion junkie’.
Sisley’s 2007 Fashion Junkie Campaign is evocative of a modernised version of heroin chic in fashion photography during the 1990s. Photographers including Corinne Day, Juergen Teller and Nan Goldin were challenging the typical polished images in fashion advertising and began exploring an authentic approach to depicting fashion and beauty (i). Nan Goldin’s work in particular during this time features a snapshot aesthetic as an immediate insight into the lives of the people surrounding her. Using this technique of photography responds to the self-take image as a realistic intimate record of the behaviours of young adults exploring and experimenting with alcohol, drugs and their sexuality. Juergen Teller on the other hand uses the snapshot as a way of exploiting an untouched celebrity photograph revealing the imperfections that would otherwise be edited for public display (ii). In both cases, the snapshot aesthetic is an effective technique that develops an authentic representation of reality. In comparison to Sisley’s advertisement, Teller and Goldin’s images have a rawness that leans more towards a fine art image than a fashion advertising photograph. Sisley’s approach in a modernist sense has subtly reflected the types of flash photography that is taken in nightclubs of the behaviours of young adults in that environment.
Sisley’s overall advertising aesthetic is very similar to the humorous snapshots teenagers take of themselves at parties or group environments. According to Sisley, their advertising campaigns attempt to capture a possible reality where the customers can identify and recognise themselves yet create a fiction that they can dream about (iii). The rebellious nature of teenage culture is predominately explored as way of targeting their audience. In addition, American Apparel uses a similar style as an advertising technique. The high flash snapshot of the same model in different poses often on a white sheeted bed in basic fashionable underwear touches on the social media selfie. Considering the current infatuation of the selfie with teenage culture it is an effective way of advertising to gain attention. Although when comparing Sisley and American Apparel, Sisley clarifies the snapshot as a party selfie associated with socialisation, rebellion and humour. Combining this with ideas of addiction demonstrated in heroin chic photography, Sisley’s target audience is clearly illustrated in a manner that demands attention.
(i) Hickman, T 2002, ‘Heroin Chic: The Visual Culture of Narcotic Addiction, Third Text, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 119-136
(ii) Chang, A 2005, ‘Exhibition Review: Fashioning Fiction in Photography since 1990’, Fashion Theory, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 361-368
(iii) Sisley Brand History 2014, viewed 21 September 2014, <http://www.sisley.com/about/brand/>