Cesare Paciotti: What are they selling?

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This print ad is for the luxury shoe brand Cesare Paciotti. This ad exemplifies Berger’s argument that women watch themselves being watched by men. In the ad, the man’s face is obscured so he is replaceable by any male, and he is standing in a position of power filming a woman. This sends the message that women are being examined by every male for their looks. While he is posed dominantly, the sparsely dressed woman is lying on the couch passively, unable to support herself. She is in a vulnerable and provocative position and staring back at the man. This signals that she is like an inanimate object and her looks and behaviors are only there to please the man. The bright colors and the flawless model all glamorize this dynamic of dominant man and submissive woman. This also proves Berger’s point that the male gaze is always heterosexual.

In Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly 4, she explains that women in advertising must appear innocent yet sexualized at the same time. The female model is dressed in white and in a passive position which shows innocence but her lack of clothing signals eroticism.

If the product is shoes then what is the purpose of all these extra focuses and why is there no mention of the shoe’s functionality? This can be answered by Kilbourne’s argument that the advertisers are selling the audience as the products. The target audience of this ad is probably women since the female model is the focus. Cesare Paciotti is saying the most important thing for a woman is that she pleases the male surveyors by appearing like the female model in behavior (submissive and provocative) and appearance; and the only way for the consumer to be the female model is by wearing their shoes.

Sources

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin, 1972.

Killing Us Softly 4. Dir. Jean Kilbourne. Cambridge Documentary Films, 2010. Film.

 

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