Drawing Inspiration from Film and Fashion

For my last round of blogging, I wanted to depart a little from what we’ve been posting to something a little off the beaten path. A little while ago I was reading in the Wall Street Journal’s Marketplace section about one of my favorite brands, French Connection, and their launch of a new advertising campaign. The article caught my attention for three reasons 1. I love fashion 2. I love advertising as I am a marketing major and 3. the campaign was entirely inspired by film noir! I know we ventured very far since those noir days (and sorry for going back to there) but I thought this was really cool and wanted to share. The campaign involves both print and commercial advertisements (mostly for international markets so we may not even see them here in the US, and hence the foreign accents on the commercial). Take a look:

French Connection ‘The Woman’ from Fashion Copious on Vimeo.

French Connection ‘The Man’ from Fashion Copious on Vimeo.

As you can see, the commercials are a little odd (definitely seem fit more for the European market than the American market). But I think it’s so great that they drew inspiration from film noir. First of all, “the woman” and “the man” reminds me (and probably deliberately so) of the “femme fatale” and the “hero,” the stock characters of the noir film. The black and white filming of them is clearly noir related, as is the seductive (for the woman) and mysterious (for the man) feel of the commercials. I love when advertisements get creative and wacky, as this is, drawing on the seriousness of noir but with humor (“look at his heart. Or rather look at his shirt…he wears not sequins. He knows not what sequins is”). This also reminds me and gives me a little inspiration for our final project, for being influenced by something, such as in this case a film technique/genre, doesn’t mean copying it entirely, but it means taking aspects of the technique and twisting them and making them your own, thereby creating a whole new entity, and not simply a recreation of something that already exists.

7 thoughts on “Drawing Inspiration from Film and Fashion

  1. How refreshing to see something different on the blog! I think it was only a matter of time before the fashion industry dipped as far back as the era of film noir. For the past 2-3 years I’ve been seeing vintage clothing on the streets, but that’s here in the U.S. To me, I’m not completely surprised that a European brand has decided to emulate film noir in its latest trends.

  2. Agree with Jenny, really nice to see something a little different on the blog. I think the fashion industry has a bit of a love affair with film noir because I’ve noticed these elements throughout many different advertising campaigns, especially the elements of the femme fatale and the hero characteristic of the genre. I wonder why this love affair exists though?

  3. Thanks for the positive feedback! And that’s funny,and true, that fashion does love using noir inspirations, it’s probably because of all the glamour and sex-appeal associated with old-noir Hollywood and the femme fatale.

  4. Naremore’s “The History of an Idea” chapter from More than Night actually points out two advertisements utilizing film noir as their themes. One of them is a clothing advertisement that goes something like “Film Noir: Something filmy, see-through and black is this summer’s No. 1 sensation. It will be seen on the street, the beach, the ballroom and maybe even the board room.” The purpose of using noir in advertisement, Naremore writes, is an “allusive technique of 1960s art films” intended “to make audiences feel sophisticated” (38)– it evokes a sense of nostalgia for a period that has entered our collective memory (39).

    It’s amazing that film noir has this kind of effect when applied to an advertisement. Its intended audience wasn’t alive when noir films were coming out of Hollywood, or even aware of the critical analyses that came upon the noir era after Kiss Me Deadly came out. Yet they– without even seeing an actual noir film from the 1930s-1950s– have an idea of what the words “film noir” is supposed to mean, or if the words aren’t used directly, they have an idea that the advertisements are allusive to that era of film.

    Speaking for myself, the first true, 1930s-1950s film noir film I ever watched was in 2008– The Postman Always Rings Twice– but I had an idea of what film noir actually was because of what Naremore mentions in his readings. I had knowledge of film noir’s parodies, remakes, summertime blockbusters and mass-market paperbacks among other things (38). And the intended audience for these noir-inspired advertisements has this knowledge too, which is why the advertisements are useful!

  5. Especially after watching “the woman” video, I was quickly reminded of the movie “(500) Days of Summer” and Laura Mulvey’s male gaze. At the beginning of the movie, there is a break in diegesis (the world in the movie) and it cuts to a description of Summer with a narrator. Another part of “the woman” video that reminded me of “(500) Days” is when the woman in the commercial is practically being displayed as an exhibition, for all of us, especially males, to look at. There are a lot of close-ups of her body and images of how she sits, stands, and reclines. Much like Summer, the woman is the commercial may not be a classified as a complete sex object but she is definitely meant to be looked at.

  6. Yes I hear what you’re saying! 500 Days of Summer happens to be one of my favorite movies, I think it was totally underated (but that’s another story), but you’re right, it’s like that part in the beginning when the narrator is describing “the woman, Summer Finn” and the “Summer Effect,” which was essentially the way she made men do a double take whenever they saw her. Good comparison.

  7. I agree the commercials are definitely a little odd (I think you are right about targeting the European market more the American market). The “femme fatale” and the “hero,” character archetype seem pretty clear and it’s true to form for noir genre. The black and white filming is particularly seductive and the gentle humor helps to sell it.
    I think Picasso said “good artists copy great artists steal”! I think that taking the film noir treatment and rendering it into a contemporary idea is a great starting point for a project, whether it’s a pastiche or something more twisted.!

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