5.24.2010

Whatever happened?


Marc Jacobs is coming out with a new fragrance for men called Bang. In the ad campaign, shot by Juergen Teller of course, he is oiled up and naked, straddling a metallic oversized bottle of the perfume.

Following the thread of recent events in Marc's life, this was hardly shocking to anyone. Number one, because it's Marc and we're used to his new exhibitionist side (plus he already showed his bits in Bazaar a while ago); and number two, because Yves Saint Laurent also went nude for his premiere scent for men (aptly titled Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme) in the early 70's. And all of these things are fine of course, except then I started thinking a bit more and realizing how incongruous this whole thing is with the image of the Marc Jacobs brand we've been sold for years.

Before Marc was a beefcake with Spongebob Squarepants tattoos, he was a totally geeky guy with thick glasses who wore Converse sneakers all the time. He was the patron saint for the girls who were too cool to be overtly sexy. Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore always sat front row at his shows and were featured in ad campaigns, along with such geekdom luminaries like Meg White, Stephen Malkmus and Jarvis Cocker. And even last season he cast non-models for his fall show and sent girls down the runway wearing glasses. On a weird level, Marc Jacobs has always been a label for the smart girls that wouldn't even dress like Snookie for Halloween, and of course we love him for that. Taking all of this into consideration, how are we supposed to feel about this new development for the brand? It's not the picture I'm talking about, it's the name. Bang.

Bang?

WWD quotes him as saying "As a word, it has so many connotations, including a sexual connotation", which, DUH, I mean, it's either a gun, a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song or sex and when you lay the words under a naked man straddling a metal object, well, I'm pretty sure it's mostly about the sex. The whole thing becomes some weird kind of glorified fashion-AXE bodyspray product, a scent for the rich, young douche-set? "Sex sells", yes, but why now?

And if I really want to overthink it, I realize that all women scents have typically tender, cute, girly names like Blush, Daisy and Lola. They are passive and safe and not as overt and inyourface as BANG. But this is an observation I would only make if I was overthinking it.

Is this the beginning of Marc's big time sensuality-life influencing his work in such an obvious way? On one level, I feel like nothing that Marc does can prove unsuccessful, so I doubt that his perfume will not do well (nor am I saying that I wish for it to fail), but surely the change in attitude is not only weird to me?

14 comments:

The Poptart Bandit said...

It is kind of strange. I liked the fact that he represented fashion dorks everywhere. haha

LaArmoire said...

MARC JACOBS has been always so strange and breaker of rules this BANG fragrance is something like BANG BANG YOU SHUT ME DOWN BANG BANG I HIT THE GROUND ... and it is all about the "sex"

tanya said...

Great opinion. I agree, I really don't get this new ad of Marc's. Maybe it's the oil on his skin, maybe it's the random stars on his shoulders and maybe it's BANG, but if I were a boy, I don't think I'll buy this "Bang!" thing.

Rachel Lily said...

Surely it's some kind of twisted version of Tom Ford's perfume advertisments? The oiled bodies and positioned bottles are beyond similar
Rx

hazel said...

OKAY THANK YOU.

I always know that if I have to choose between tan hunky MJ or geeky indie dude MJ it would obviously be the latter.

What drew me to Marc Jacobs was not just his clothes, but like you mentioned, his "geekdom luminaries" and his down to earth attitude. I'm always going to be the nerd girl who relates to the pasty and quirky kids!

You're not the only one who is a bit irked by Marc's change. I kind of worried for the house at first, wondering if his designs were suddenly going to lean towards being some sexy glamazon, but they haven't.

He once said, "My clothes are not hot. Never. Never" (http://nymag.com/nymetro/shopping/fashion/12544/) and I really responded to that when I first read that interview. I can't help but wonder, to the man who thought his company, his clothes, his image wasn't "sexy", about how the MJ image will progress.

The Bang ad is kind of contradictory to his old self, and change isn't a bad thing (especially in design!) but I'm kind of worried about what to expect from him after this.

Chérie said...

I liked him soooo much better when he was a geeky amazing person. THURSTON WOULD BE ASHAMED.

Tavi said...

This this this. I don't have much to add...I think it's a weird subject because it ends up coming down to New Marc vs. Old Marc and that's hard to do unless you KNOW him (though we could do New Marc Persona vs. Old Marc Persona, in which case, I'm wrong. So nevermind. I MISS NERDY MARC.)

Oh, and GOOD POINT with the flowery, quiet perfumes for girls and then BANG SEX FLASH CROTCH PERFUME for dudes.

Isabel said...

The only word I have is 'ewwwwwww'.

KD said...

I think you're completely right in that this is a change in attitude, but I think perhaps not so much as was implied here. I say that because his perfumes for women may be girly, but the ads aren't actually all that sweet or innocent. They're sexy, but not "glamorous", which is sort of the vibe I get here. Like I said, I agree that this is a change in attitude, but frankly, what else could you make a fragrance for men? Sweet? Innocent? Those wouldn't sell, nor would they fit with the Marc Jacobs persona any more than this. On a purely lolzy level, I actually like this ad/attitude because I don't really see the lifestyle behind it. I actually find it rather Marc Jacobs-y in that respect - he's crafting his own lifestyle concept, I suppose. Basically what I'm saying here is that it's different from previous efforts in its overt sexuality, but remains Marc-y in that it doesn't fit into a made-for-market mold (i.e. its not for lumberjacks, or dandies, or any other easily identifiable demographic).

laia. said...

KD: I sort of see what you're saying but I think going from a fuzzy image of jarvis cocker mowing the lawn to a naked and oiled up photo of marc is a big jump in terms of "advertising to men" so I don't know that that's the only way to sell perfume to dudes? i mean, they clearly had it figured out before. i think even putting some naked oiled up dude instead of marc himself would've made a difference in the way i'm seeing this as a step in their branding.

the whole perfume name things was just sort of an observation as I don't necessarily believe that it was done on purpose/with sexist intent or whatever.

Monica R said...

Thank you so much for pointing this out! I was totally thinking the same thing when I saw this ad. I mean I love geeky Marc AND beefcake Marc, but I think that one of the major themes behind marc jacobs line was to refrain from showing any overt sexuality. I think it's a little weird that he has sexed up the men's ads but the women's ads are still very much traditional, nerdy-chic, non sexy marc. It was a little double standard-ish to me, I'll be honest...

Yin-lai said...

I pretty much agree with the whole post... Marc himself has changed but untill now the brand still had a pretty well defined identity and target.

Also... sexy is not the same as SEX. At all.

Also... am I the only one who totally sees who the target is here? I mean, c'mon...

Also... vivan los dorks!

Anonymous said...

The ad strikes me as overtly gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But probably too overtly and obviously gay to sell to a straight, mainstream male audience.

Steve said...

I was going to say things that I thought were original, but they've already been said...

I was going to say what Rachel Lily said, in that this is like an extension of the original male-nude-YSL-perfume ad, and the second, Tom Ford male-nude-YSL-perfume ad. Except it's not YSL, so he's not really paying homage to anything.

The second thing is that I agree with what anonymous said, this is very typical of advertising by gay men, for gay men. I believe this would weird the heck out of the rich, young douche-set, and maybe turn off every hetero male (I don't know, I'm allergic to half these scents).

If you want to read a good profile of Marc Jacobs (might have some insight on this issue, I can't remember), there was this article about him in the New Yorker a while back: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/09/01/080901fa_fact_levy (it's written by Ariel Levy, who is a pretty awesome feminist)