Sep 10, 2006

Audrey Abomination!!!

I was still half-asleep this morning when, settling down with a cinnamon roll and a fat Sunday paper full of circulars, I was bombarded by a screechingly-loud AC/DC song accompanying a tv commercial. I was furiously trying to mute it when Audrey Hepburn appeared on the screen, whirling and traipsing straight out of the nightclub scene in Funny Face, with guitars wailing in the background and tiny snippets of her unmistakable voice peppered throughout the song.

Surely this is a commercial for a re-release of her collection? I thought. Turner Classic Movies does a dependably brilliant job of fusing clips of classic cinema with contemporary music and themes, although generally, they aren't peddling anything with their commercials (TCM is self-supporting, so its rarely-aired advertisements are for its own programming lineup and specials). But, alas, Audrey's hipness was being used to sell black pants for the GAP. No, I'm not kidding you...slender, gorgeous Holly Golightly has been reduced to hawking slim-fit crops.

In case you're not a mall shopper, I'll fill you in a bit: The GAP is a chain store for the trendy individual which maintains its slightly more-pretentious status by charging slightly-more ridiculous prices than the average clothing destination. The GAP prides itself on setting fads not by gently ushering in its wares to the consumer public, but by boldly proclaiming a new sartorial direction and placing their brand's name at the forefront. (That being said, they do have a fabulous collection of pea coats and trenches, and I must admit perusing their clearance racks is a surefire way to add smart pieces to your closet). In this case, Audrey's lithe likeness is used to herald the return of the "skinny black pant", as she leaps and twirls to the strains of the 80's rock classic "Back in Black". Not exactly the kind of role she would have taken had The GAP existed in her heyday, is it?

It basically pares down to this: those who know of Audrey Hepburn - how many GAP shoppers could identify her on-the-spot?- generally hold a delicate reverence for her, regardless of how sartorially-savante they are. Audrey equals style, as simple as that - sophisticated, uncomplicated, Givenchy style. And unpretentious though she was, chances are slim that Madamoiselle Hep would ever be found browsing the local mall's GAP for forty-dollar skinny pants. I can appreciate the fact that even today she is an unfaltering icon of fashion, but I think utilizing her image in a marketing campaign for wares that don't directly involve her borders on exploitation.

That's right. I said abomination.

Question of the Week: What is your reaction to the commercial? Do you approve of or abhor the use of Audrey Hepburn's image to sell clothing?