Years ago this type of embrace would have been either in private or in one of “those” magazines. Now it’s in W magazine being used to advertise Equipment with Kate Moss as the draw. I had to go to Equipmentfr.com to see what Equipment exactly is: Voila!
“In 1976, Christian Restoin set out to revolutionize a flourishing, yet cautious women’s ready-to-wear industry with the launch of his brand, Equipment. Straightforward and innovative, Equipment’s menswear-inspired shirts were characterized by their refined tailoring and timeless appeal. The brand quickly became a worldwide success and a recognized name amongst the fashion elite, creating a following in film stars such as Lauren Bacall. After enjoying twenty years of the brand’s success, Restoin moved on, wishing to pursue another phase of his career.
In spring 2010, Serge Azria, re-launched Equipment as he saw a void in the contemporary marketplace for a luxury shirt brand that catered to the modern woman.” (Website)
Ok, I should know this? I’m interested in fashion. It’s just like the cigar business – something new all the time – new blends, new wrappers, new manufacturers, new trends. It’s all quite the same. In fact, the ways in which both industries advertise are quite similar.
Take a look at Cigar Snob magazine. March/April 2015. Look at the front over. What’s Nohemi Hermosillo saying with her eyes? I don’t know, my attention is elsewhere and it isn’t on the cigar. See? The editors hired her, from the Wilhelmina Modeling Company, to be photographed by David Benoliel in a variety of poses that lure the reader in. They are sultry, provocative and appealing.
But the ads are becoming edgier and edgier. Example, same W magazine (September), and here’s what you see. A conglomeration of designer’s clothes and jewelry – Alexander Wang’s belt, Cartier’s necklace, a Fenty Puma’s jacket, corset and pants, along with tats, S&M masks, leather pants and the look of sheer craving. Lifeless it is not – bordering on the ideologically confrontational. Models are posed in such a way as to spark a feeling, tap into a reservoir of psychological space that you might not be aware of. What’s the upshot?
Yes, fashion has always been on the brink using taboo ideas and subject matter. Even in the 50s, the fashions were considered risqué, improbable, and inescapably disturbing – for the time. Yes. Agree with me or not. Look through Cosmopolitan, Vogue, or even earlier issues of W. The vivid imagination has always been the high-point of the photographer and the editor. Look. At. This. And we do.
So where are the ads taking us? No longer are we safe from unsettling images, be they having to do with an embrace of two women or the inclusion of pseudo-sadomasochism. And that’s OK. Fashion, art, photography and cigar manufacturing have always been the same – “Rolled on the thighs of Cuban virgins.” Or key in on Robert Mapplethorpe’s work and realize that he was testing the tensile strength of our thought threads as to what will attract and what will repel without snapping them, thus spoiling the entire experience.
This is our world and has been. Nothing has really changed. Go through The Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana Vatsyayana. The difference? It’s technology coming at you from all sides at the highest rate of speed imaginable – instantaneously. No longer are we able to slowly absorb what we see. We skim, we click, and we scroll down looking for something to excite us NOW! Delayed gratification does not exist anymore. Save for the world in which I live as a cigar broker. It takes time to smoke a cigar. The inflammatory passions are being stoked by the ads to make you look. Anything goes. So why not go there?
Yet, when you pick up a cigar, and light it, the smoke pulls through slowly, deliberately, without any hurry. The cigar will get hot if you rush, thus destroying the subtle flavors that were meant to be enjoyed at a pace so foreign to our lives today. Maybe the ads are trying to circumvent that possibility and make you “hot” before you try on the dress, or the shoes, or the blouse – or smoke the cigar. They intentionally disrupt you. They goad you into an emotion you really need not embrace.
The cigar is a place. The cigar is its own entity. The cigar has control over you. Let it shield you with its purpose – to provide tranquility, quiet, and stillness. You can’t help but know the ads are there. They are there to draw you in – be it in an excited state or a disturbing one. Their goal is certain – to attract your attention.
Look at the ads. Take in the message if you must. But know that fashion’s goal is to incite the emotions – NOW! The cigar’s goal is to arouse the emotions s-l-o-w-l-y.