#XMAS2015: House of Fraser defies Xmas to hip-hop beats

It comes as no surprise that the latest House of Fraser Christmas ad was described as the “antidote to the festive fuzzy norm”. The store’s campaign, titled ‘Your Christmas Your Rules’, aims to challenge traditional notions of Christmas and pays tribute to a sense of rebellion, of abundance of style, of unapologetic fierceness.

With its elaborate hip-hop dance routines choreographed by Parris Goebel, who has worked with the likes of Beyonce and Justin Bieber, and its mixture of punk, plaid, pastel and over-the-top eyeliner, it is perhaps one of the least ‘Christmass-y’ ads of the year, but it certainly is eye-catching. I find it somewhat a breath of fresh air in the general moppiness of the John Lewis’ patented seasonal ad recipe (which I will write about in another post), but for some of the more traditional festive cheerers this may come across as a little too different and a little too out of tune with the rest – which after all is exactly what the campaign aimed to do.

House of Fraser’s director of brand and creative, Tony Holdway, explained: ‘This time of year is all about inspiring our customers to curate their own fashionable and bespoke Christmas, free from stress and brimming with ideas and individuality. Challenging the norm is exactly what we’ve tried to capture in this year’s multi-channel campaign and we hope it will encourage people to think far more openly and creatively this festive season. I think it’s a campaign like no other.’

House of Fraser 'Your Christmas Your Rules' 2015 Christmas campaign @Thorns Have Roses

Anna Carpen, creative director at 18 Feet & Rising, the agency that created the campaign, added that the campaign is not to be taken as anti-festive, but simply as something to ‘cut through the usual jingle bells’.

House of Fraser wasn’t the only one this year to try and stir away from the John Lewis’s heart-tugging formula, with brands such as Marks & Spencer, Coach and Mulberry all preferring to inject a bit of humour and festive energy. What’s yet to be seen is which of the two directions will generate more sales.

Click here to read my post on Burberry’s 2015 Christmas campaign, which celebrates Britishness and pays homage to Billy Elliot in its 15th-year anniversary.

sources / photo credits:
The Drum
Daily Mail
TV Ad Music

Does sex sell?

Something that is almost impossible not to notice about the fashion industry, especially once you start looking at it from a more professional point of view, is that it can have a strongly objectifying view of the body and it sometimes glamourises sexist behaviour and way of thinking. I know, breaking news! This has been observed in advertising for decades now and it never quite seems to decrease, it only transforms, adapting to the taste of the times.

As someone who considers herself a feminist this has been somewhat of an issue for me as I decided to embark on a fashion-related degree. In a way, it was my very own elephant in the room: at first I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about entering an industry that could be so destructive to a cause I firmly and enthusiastically believed in. But I am an optimist at heart, and my conclusion for now is that fashion is a tool, and that it isn’t inherently good or bad by its nature, but just like with any other tools it depends on how it’s being used. And I thought, hey, what better way to change things for the better than to actually work in the industry and find a way to improve what I feel doesn’t work? Hammers are great to nail pretty pictures to the wall, but they would make a great deal of damage if smashed on someone’s head. You get my point.

Something I find most people struggle with (myself included) is drawing the fine line between expressing art through a naked body and sexualising it. I know there is plenty of art out there which features nudity and I absolutely adore (off the top of my head I can think of classics such as Schiele and Klimt, but the honour isn’t reserved to 19th-century Austrian painters). Personally I believe there is a difference between celebrating the body and sexualising it. This is also why I named my Pinterest board “sex sells” and not “nudity in fashion”, because I do not think that nudity in itself is a bad, dirty thing.

The problem arises when the advertisements begin objectifying the female (or male!) body. Women’s bodies are dismembered in ads for all kinds of products, effectively turning their body parts into props, embellishments, objects to sell a product. Those pair of boobs, that leg, those lips belong to a woman who was stripped away of her identity and turned into a thing. From Wikipedia:

Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as an instrument of sexual pleasure. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity.

The body language of women and girls in almost all of these remains passive, vulnerable, submissive, whereas the man (when featured) assumes the dominating role. Also, he is usually fully clothed.


A few images from my Pinterest board… go check it out!

I mean… when an ad for a Menswear Spring/Summer collection doesn’t feature any pieces of clothing, not even a scrap of fabric on the floor, maybe it is time to rethink what we are really trying to sell here (I’m looking at you, Tom Ford).

tom ford menswear ss12

Menswear and eyewear SS12 collection by… Tom Ford, who else?

I have a great deal to say about the portrayal of women (and men) in media as it’s something that I care deeply about, so stay tuned if you want to read more about this topic in the future!