We walk past ad campaigns every day, thinking we’re safe from their insidious effects, but the best ones curl up in our brains and stay there forever. This has been proved this week by the resurgence of an amazing Comme des Garçons campaign from A/W88 which unanimously won the Loves vote for Dazed’s Fashion Features Editor Isabella Burley. Elegant, subtle and surprising, this joyful image of a pair of young girls wearing braces is a sublime piece of work from a fashion house that continually serves up an intriguing and unconventional perspective on beauty and commercialism.
"Comme des Garçons continually serves up an intriguing and unconventional perspective on beauty and commercialism"
Advertising is first and foremost about shifting units, and perhaps the most successful campaigns are those that promise that their product will turn you into a facsimile of the beautiful star staring out at you from the bus stop. Thus, Twiggy’s eyelashes sold a million Yardley mascaras, Farrah Fawcett’s exemplary mane made Fabergé shampoo a bestseller, Catherine’s Deneuve’s Parisian allure sent Chanel No. 5 flying out of the stores and Brook Shields' suggestive pose with her Calvins started a denim revolution. But we got wise and our hair remained resolutely un-Angelic, so fashion and beauty advertisers had to change their game. Tommy Hilfiger inveigled himself into the fashion conversation with a brazen piece of copywriting, and the last years have seen a dressed down Chloë Sevigny in slides and a spinning chair for Prada, Juergen Teller putting Victoria Beckham in a bag for Marc Jacobs, Madonna dealing with the chickens on Dolce & Gabbana’s incredibly glamorous farm, and Kate Moss cutting a wedding cake in a Burberry check slip, surrounded by a coterie of Jaggers. But Comme des Garçons has never resorted to attention grabbing stars or even conventional fashion images, preferring to prowl the line between fashion and art, serving up unexpected and beautiful work that we would like to put on our wall and stare at forever.
So, to celebrate a piece of fashion campaign history, as well as Mia Wasikowska's head to toe pink Comme look on the cover of AnOther Magazine's S/S14 issue, here we talk to Burley about why she loved this image, and her memories of working for Rei Kawakubo as a teenager.
Why did you love this campaign?
Because it embraces the awkwardness of adolescence.
Show us some other CDG campaigns you love?
I really love all of the SHIRT ones, particularly Stephen J Shanabrook's scrunched up faces.
Where would you put the 1988 campaign it if you owned it?
Above my bed.
What's the best way to wear braces?
With a big smile? I actually wouldn't know because I refused them as a teenager – that was before I discovered this image, of course!
What's your first memory of Comme des Garçons?
Being 17, working at Dover Street Market and being petrified every time Rei Kawkubo would visit the store.
What's your favourite CDG moment?
There are too many and I keep discovering more.
Who would you ask to join you in a recreation of this moment?
Rei Kawakubo, of course! Second option would be Cindy Sherman.
What are you looking forward to about 2014?
The new era of Dazed!
What was the last thing you bought?
A bottle of red wine.
Text by Tish Wrigley