October 14, 2010



It was 1984, maybe 1985? My mom and her best friend and daughter, my childhood friend, walked into the San Francisco Benetton . We had seen the campaign ads all over the place. One stands out in my memory, two hands (white and black), shackled in hand cuffs. Another, a priest and nun in an intimate embrace. So powerful and profound and controversial. The fashion ads were just as meaningful. Fresh-faced, diverse and bright, the models of the United Colors of Benetton were happy and unified and spoke a political message of the grandest proportions and all via a clothing line. We wanted to be their friends. Walking into the large, wherehouse-y store in San Francisco, we were floored by the options. Not much has changed.

Oliviero Toscani was the man behind some of the most controversial advertising campaigns in history. The Italian photographer, who served as creative director for Benetton between the years of 1982 - 2000, not only transformed the Italian clothier into a household name, he changed the face of advertising. Toscani’s work for Benetton was sometimes poignant, usually controversial and always memorable. While Benetton's ads have become less controversial, they still portray large and meaningful messages. Like their latest ad series entitled, IT'S: MY: TIME  Global Fashion Community, which blasted a casting call of global proportions (think Tanzania to Switzerland to Brooklyn) to name it's newest crop of fashion models, representing every culture and every skin tone. The lovely crop of models you see below won the beautiful and universal model contest and are prominently featured in their Fall/Winter collection ads.

The idea for Fall/Winter 2011 is simple. Be who you want to be. Dress, rather adrogynously, in blacks and grays or demand attention, accentuating your sexual prowess and pop in a traditional Benetton shout out with color (red shoe strings, yellow tshirts and bright plaids). The models, they're still gorgeous and diverse and real and the clothes well, reasonable and accessible and full of fashion bravado. This line is for the urban street hero, the one with a little more funk and little less classic. Of course pieces can be mixed and matched and can play any part, but never ever boring. 

Next time you get dressed, get dressed with an intention to make a difference in the world. Wouldn't that be awesome if everyone did that as they got out of bed? Check out this old United Colors of Benetton ad produced by Toscani. I'm so inspired.

- sister

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