An image can be stronger than an army: The adverts that changed the world
9:14 AM EST, Mon November 16, 2015
Donna Karan 'In Women We Trust' by Peter Lindbergh, 1992 —
Donna Karan's eight-page 'In Women We Trust' campaign depicted a woman on a campaign trail, being sworn in as president, and sitting in the Oval Office. "I'm not trying to elevate women at the expense of men, but to say that a woman could go for it," Karan explained at the time. In a world that is still yet to see a female president, her message of equal opportunity was a challenge to the patriarchy that prevails decades after its publication.
Calvin Klein Underwear by Bruce Weber, 1982 —
Bruce Weber's iconic image of Brazilian pole-jumper Tom Hintnaus marked a profound change in the world of fashion advertising. It promoted male beauty through a homoerotic lens, and proudly displayed Hintanaus' body on a Times Square billboard. The familiar model of representation -- which placed men in suits and only women as sex objects -- was challenged, and the image's legacy has been as enormous as the 45' x 48' billboard itself.
Calvin Klein by Bruce Weber, 1992 —
The work of Bruce Weber in collaboration with Calvin Klein is frequently cited for introducing a "breakthrough" in advertising by introducing subtle homoerotic themes. Above in an advertisement for Calvin Klein: Obsession, from 1992.
Versace by Richard Avedon, 1992 —
Showcasing some of the most famous fashion faces of the '90s, this Versace advertisement by Richard Avedon featured the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kristen McMenamy, Linda Evangelista, Stephanie Seymour, and Christy Turlington. The image is said to have captured the epitome of the "power-woman era" which celebrated "feminist energy" and androgyny.
United Colors of Benetton by Oliviero Toscani, 1991 —
Oliviero Toscani equally challenged racial segregation within society, often placing people of different ethnicities alongside each other in family settings -- which still at that time had the power to shock. Here, he equally challenged heteronormativity; supposing the women depicted are both mothers of the child, in a two-fold challenge of societal norms.
United Colors of Benetton by Oliviero Toscani
United Colours of Benetton by Therese Frare, 1991 —
Taken by Therese Frare, this image shows the deteriorating condition of David Kirby -- an AIDS activist. The photo, taken in 1990, was captured in Kirby's actual hospital room in Ohio, and features Kirby's family members by his bedside. The image went on to win the World Press Photo Award in 1991.
united colors of benetton
Nolita by Oliviero Toscani, 2007 —
Called "No Anorexia", the 2007 campaign shot by Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani for fashion label Nolita, tackled an extremely challenging subject head on. Backed by the Italian ministry of health, the photo that launched during Milan fashion week and ran in newspapers and on billboards showed a young woman who had fallen victim to the disease. Despite the power behind the ad and the awareness it helped to raise within the fashion industry, the model, Isabelle Caro, tragically died in November 2010. She had made various television appearances and spoken openly about her decision to take part in the campaign. According to an article in the New York Times published after the model's death, Caro had said: "The ideas was to shock people into awareness, I decided to do it to warn girls about the danger of diets and fashion commandments." Not everyone agreed with the approach however and the ad was eventually banned by the Italian advertising watchdog organization for agency.
Diesel SS14 by Inez & Vinoodh —
Positioning Jillian Mercado in her wheelchair alongside fellow model James Astronaut for Diesel's SS14 campaign offered disability the kind of visibility that it rarely experiences in fashion. Nicola Formichetti, the creative director of the brand, said: "Using her in a campaign is a global brand saying, this girl is as cool as the boy who she's sitting next to. It's about glorifying a normal thing, showing the reality of where we live, and it can be very powerful."
Diesel by Inez & Vinoodh
Diesel SS15 by Nick Knight —
Another of Formichetti's groundbreaking campaigns was his SS15 image that placed model Winnie Harlow, who suffers vitiligo, in the spotlight. Harlow's recent ascent within the fashion industry -- she is also the face of Desigual -- has diversified cultural representations of beauty and challenged ideas of perfection commonly expected of models.
Diesel by Nick Knight
&OtherStories AW15 by Amos Mac —
"Where editorials are ephemeral, advertising becomes part of a brand's legacy," said model Hari Nef who recently starred in &OtherStories new all-trans campaign for their newest capsule collection. "Advertisements pay, they are powerful investments, and stand to serve trans talent -- and trans people in general -- more than most kinds of fashion representation."
&OtherStories by Amos Mac
Redken Frizz Dismiss by Matt Irwin, 2015 —
The first beauty brand to appoint a trans model as its face, Redken's 2015 campaign has further consolidated gender diversity within advertising. "We live in a new era where societies are starting to believe in us" explained model Lea T. "There is still a lot that remains to be done but at least, this is the beginning... Everybody is different and beauty doesn't have to be perfect."
Redken Frizz Dismiss by Matt Irwin, 2015
Céline SS15 by Juergen Teller —
When, earlier this year, Céline cast Joan Didion as their face for Spring 2015, it caused a media storm. Seeing an older woman -- and a literary figure, at that -- presented as aspirational icon presented a new diversity within mainstream advertising: one that appreciated women for brains as well as beauty and disregarded the ordinary cut-off point for the age of female models.
JCPenney Mother's Day Campaign, 2012 —
When retail behemoth JCPenney appointed Ellen DeGeneres as their brand ambassador in 2012, it marked a seminal shift in attitudes to lesbian women, often rendered completely invisible in mainstream representation. For their 2012 Mother's Day campaign, they featured "Wendi and her partner Maggie and daughters," with both women wearing wedding bands, which placed a lesbian couple in the spotlight as mothers to be celebrated.
Gucci by Mario Testino, 2003 —
Mario Testino and Gucci celebrated diversity and family in this photo of Jamaican model Nadine Willis.