Tom Ford sunglasses from Tom Ford, the world-renown former creative designer for Gucci, has designed a chic line of men's and women's sunglasses that beautifully merges Italian design with a classic American styling. Tom uses sex to sell glasses... who knew? | Photo: Tom Ford
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In contemporary times, advertising and pornography have become entangled in an explicit love-affair. It is impossible to note where the glamour and high-credited use of advertising begins and the low-standard, morally 'inept' world of pornography and sex ends. This blurring of boundaries between the real and the imaginary is a common anecdote in Postmodern theory. We no longer exist in a world of the real; we are, in fact, living in a world generated by false realities via the media and mass production. Theorists such as Baudrillard and Jameson are key thinkers in the Postmodern framework and have expressed ideas concerning mass-consumption, 'hyper-reality' and 'pastiche.'
This theory of postmodernism is a key ingredient to my research in to the sphere of pornographic advertising methods. Modern (wo)man has become, somewhat, unfazed by images of graphic nudity via mass produced images circulating through cultural arenas.
The female body has been a generated area of interest for advertisers for a vast amount of years. In contemporary culture, the female body is the pivot for campaigns of any sort. As selected thinkers have noted, the female on-screen is seen as an object to worship and possess by the male spectator and, thus, the libido is heightened and the supremacy of the male is heightened.
However, this argument is slightly out-dated since the male body is now depicted on-screen as an enviable form. Through advertising, since the 1970's, the male body has been presented to the spectator as a sexualized object. Not only is the male body represented as slightly feminized and, thus, eroticized; but similarly, the male 'package' is an increasing topic of discussion and interest within the media sphere.
Tom Ford continues to push limits with his advertising campaigns, and some say for no good reason, while others receive the ads with critical acclaim. | Photo: Archives
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With this background information at hand, I decided to concentrate on decoding Tom Ford's highly sexualized campaigns. In the fashion world, Tom Ford is notorious for his collaboration wit
|An insight in to the use of pornographic imagery in Tom Ford's advertising campaigns.|
h risque photographer Terry Richardson. Each of Ford's campaigns are sexually explicit featuring both male and female bodies in compromising positions and fully naked, apart from props and products.
Many if Ford's advertisements have caused moral uproar from the public and other organizations. In fact, in one advertisement for his male fragrance release, Ford has the bottle placed between a female model's legs blocking out her genitalia with the bottle. Not is this a blatant example of using nudity to sell products but it is also an example of the female body as an instrument of objectification.
However, although Ford's campaigns are quite distasteful, I think they carry an important message. Ford's campaigns are so explicit that they break the viewer out of their comfort zone. Every day we are presented with nudity, sexualized puns and women being fetishized and objectified. However, Ford's advertisements are so graphic that one must wonder if he is satirizing the current environment.
I feel as though he is heightening and exaggerating the codes of postmodern advertising to strike a cord with audiences and to allow them to make the connection for themselves between the disintegrating lines of contemporary advertising and the, previous 'underworld,' of pornography.
There are many creative directors who draw on this reference in their campaigns. Dolce and Gabbana released an image of a woman in a sexualized position with male spectators surrounding her. Similarly, David LaChapelle features a large amount of nudity and suggestive poses in his larger-than-life celebrity portraits and campaigns.
In my opinion, this blurred line between advertising and pornography is here to stay. Women have continuously been a pivotal point for sales, marketing and advertising and this is bound to stay. The female form has been an area of interest in the media since the beginning and seems set in cement. With the onslaught of teen bodies and male bodies being featured in the media, the next question is whether the inclusion of 'queer' bodies (by this I mean anything considered 'abnormal' in media standards: disabled, homosexual, transgendered or obese) be permitted to feature as a sexualized form? Or will there always be a strict 'normalized' male/female hegemonic expectancy.
Tom Ford, former creative designer for Gucci, released an ad campaign for Neroli Portofino which pushes the limits or editors, censors, and media outlets everywhere... not to mention consumers. This is the least revealing of the ad's. | Photo: Archives
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