Far more than just simply announcing their new lipsticks, Gucci has ignited a big debate on beauty ideals with their campaign that features four vintage-style images of crooked and gapped teeth. The new lipstick campaign is an instant challenge to everything seen before in beauty advertising, yet the brand are using these images for sales across their social media pages as well as their website.
[All images courtesy of Gucci Beauty.]
The one provoking the most debate is the image of punk singer Dani Miller, who’s missing two lateral incisors. Online comments ranged from decisive rejection – “Never buying this” – to affirmation – “This is why I love Gucci”. There were the pessimistic – “Gucci = Walmart now” – and there were the optimists – “Never thought I’d see teeth like mine on a high fashion scale”.
But whichever camp you side with, Alessandro Michele’s latest attention-grabbing manoeuvre probably made you do a double-take. The association between a raw, unpolished, imperfect image and a luxury fashion house has never really been witnessed before. If the ads make you feel any sense of discomfort (and don’t worry, you’re not alone), then that’s the campaign suggesting just how far we still have to go to dismantle current beauty standards.
Of course, Alessandro Michele is walking a fine line between revolutionary and bad taste. We might question why the teeth have to be so zoomed in (not even the most perfect teeth in beauty adverts are this close up), or why the lipsticks themselves are simply pasted on in awkwardly-lit photography (are lipsticks victims of unrealistic beauty standards too?). Whatever the verdict, wondering whether it’s creative innovation or unnecessary deviation is all part of the conversation Gucci has deliberately brought up.
After taking over Gucci from 2015, Michele practically reinvented the brand, transforming it into the “cool kid” in the centre of the high-spending millennial community. With his penchant for pop culture and his brand’s features in rap lyrics, it’s not hard to see how he did so. What’s more, Gucci’s lipstick campaign isn’t Michele’s first move to rewrite the beauty rulebook. His runway models never wear foundation to cover up blemishes. His introduction of an entire Instagram account exclusively for Gucci’s cosmetics is an indication of how seriously the brand takes their role in the beauty industry. And with contentious marketing like this making sure Gucci stays in the conversation, the digital generation is kept in constant contact with the brand.
Nevertheless, for all the fierce debate and contentious conversations, Gucci’s lipsticks themselves do sound quite appealing. As part of Michele’s first ever cosmetics collection, the lipsticks launched on May 6 and include 58 shades in 3 textures, each having their own distinct, vintage-style casing. Michele chose gold tubes etched with an Art Deco pattern for the 36 satin shades. The casing for the 18 sheer colours is covered with a mid-century rosebud print on ivory. The 4 balms come in a Robin egg blue – a symbolic colour for femininity (before pink took that status after World War II). As a homage to his love of old Hollywood, Michele named his lipstick shades after golden-age movies and actresses.
Only time will tell how successful this campaign will be in making sales. And if that’s not their only goal, then perhaps even more time will be needed to tell how successful it will be in reinventing the rules of beauty.