03 September 2007

Encouraging "Um, not tonight" excuses everywhere

When I heard a few months back that indie actress Maggie Gyllenhaal was to replace the hotness that is Kate Moss as the face of British lingerie boutique Agent Provocateur's print and online adverts, I thought for sure the media outlet was in the midst of an opposite-day exercise or had accidentally printed "Maggie" instead of "Eva" and "Gyllenhaal" instead of "Mendes."

I mean, I just couldn't wrap my head around why anyone would want to see this chick sporting nipple tassels and a quarter-coverage bustier lying oh-so-suggestively atop a plush velvet settee with a riding crop and a pair of Louboutin peep-toes casually discarded to her left and right, respectively.

I know I speak for both of us when I scrunch up my face, shake my head and put forth a resounding, "Eww, no."

Selecting an individual to represent a particular brand is a tricky task in that the person who is chosen must not only bring with them a style and a lifestyle consistent with the brand's existent reputation but they must also contribute an air of mystery, something that causes the reader to stop, tilt their head and think, "I don't quite know why, but she makes me want to own that."

In short, everything the marriage of Agent Provocateur and Maggie "Birkenstock" Gyllenhaal is not.

AP is a store filled with showpiece lingerie. No bra, even when it's deeply on sale, costs less than $100, and no panty, thong, boyshort, tanga or tap pant would make it anywhere close to the "sensible" side of your underwear drawer. The women who shop at this purveyor of the boudoir fantasy are either celebrities, the very wealthy or the more modestly well-to-do who are looking for that one special set for that one special night. This last group, the group into which I will one day fit, is the group that will suffer most from the AP-Maggie-G. mismatch. We're the ladies who need the ordering process, from the online browsing and aaaah!-inducing zoom-ins to the over-the-top high-quality packaging, to be magical, seductive and everything Victoria's Secret was poised to be back when we were 14 years old and Stephanie Seymour in a lavender balconnet and matching hi-cut brief was the height of female gorgeousness. We as hesitant customers - and AP as well - need this process to be uninterruptedly perfect, because in order to make it to the "place order now" prompt, we must keep at bay the conscience that wants to remind us just how impractical and careless a decision it is to drop $250-$300 on something that could be procured elsewhere for a great deal less money.

And nothing is more of a deterrent than seeing something beautiful look awkward, confusing and flat-out wrong in the photo spread. AP co-founder Serena Rees claims the decision to use Gyllenhaal was in large part due to her "non-threatening [look]," a point which is well-taken in each and every one of these photos.

It's my advice, Ms. Rees, to keep these fug-ass pictures of Maggie out of any respectable fashion magazine and a good distance away from any online screen prior to the "Thank you for your order" page, because whether it's a man or a woman purchasing your underpinnings, I'm pretty sure they want to see a face and body that conjure up the idea of the ultimate female fantasy, not a could-care-less hipster and definitely not "SherryBaby."

For more of this pseudo-sultry granola mess, see below:


bff in chicago said...

Dear lord, that first photo is shiteous. I can't believe they actually released that one!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I see something a bit different in MG. Have you seen Secretary?

Johanna said...

I have seen Secretary and she alright in that but certainly not AP worthy. Plus, the Maggie I think of is the makeup-free Maggie who in the middle of a brunch at a vegan restaurant in the East Village whipped her breasts out at the table (no attempt made to shield fellow diners from the sight) and started feeding her little one. The real-life Maggie is not sexy, at least not in my view.

'frisco guy said...

I'm not trying to be funny, but I think she looks a little Down Syndromey. Not cute. Not at all. That first picture must be a joke.

Anonymous said...

The picture of her in the Prada turban -- wha'huh? It's like the opposite of sexy. Just like "milk was a bad choice" in Anchorman, Maggie was a bad choice for AP.

dara said...

None of these makes me want to spend AP money. I'm a pretty fair judge of beauty and I have no clue what these people were thinking in picking a "non-threatening" woman. Doesn't work on ANY level.

Lady Tiara said...

i agree that she is an odd choice. i'm also surprised as how different she looks in all the photos. the first one is really awful. the second and third aren't terrible, although she looks like a different person in them. the turban photo is truly terrible. someone channeling norma desmond doesn't really work for sexy underthings.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's the point: even your average butter-faced mother of one + can become a sex kitten. If you see a chick who looks nothing like you wearing the underwear, you are less likely to think you can pull it off. If it looks "down to earth" but still picante and bad-girl, you think "hmmm, maybe I can be an AP material too". It's about expanding your customer base, not keeping the existing one happy

Johanna said...

Anonymous 8:10-

I dunno, I think with lingerie, men and women both want to believe in the hot-girl fantasy. The last time you want to see a soccer mom-ish woman is in a $200 bra and $150 thong. *She* isn't going to convince you of a transformation; Kate Moss, Eva Mendes or my friend O, on the other hand, well...yeah, they'd push a lot of us over the edge to place those items in our shopping carts.

Maybe with jeans or jackets or makeup, but not with lingerie. That's just my opinion, though.


Anonymous said...

I may be the outsider, but having MG as their model makes me want to buy it more. She is super-hot in my book. Those other people (Moss, Mendez, etc.) are all more mainstream choices, I think. Is AP that mainstream (I don't know)? VS mainstream?

99.9% of the population knows nothing of her personal ways and could not care less. There is no contradiction there.

While the turban photo looks odd (to say the least), the others are hot hot. HOT. But maybe that's because I will always think of her in Secretary.


nyc admirer said...

I agree with just about everyone here that MG was an insane choice. I guess I could go for a less mainstream choice (though I don't think Jo cited Kate and Eva because she only appreciates the mainstream, which was rdhd's implication), but at least make her beautiful. Maggie just isn't from my perspective. Not a bit. And her body does nothing for me, but that's probably because it's attached to that face of hers.

And yes, I've seen Secretary and liked it very much.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to imply that Jo picked KM and EM because they are mainstream. I think of them as being mainstream. More in a Victoria's Secret way.

Maybe I just love Maggie G. ;)


d-g said...

AP actually making their stuff look not intensely tacky! i'm very surprised

Candid Cool said...

The 1st is just really incredibly awful.
The 2nd & 3rd really aren’t so bad.
The 4th is just well too Grandma. I couldn’t see a guy clicking buy this look now for his gal.
This is strange and awkward. I too was scratching my head when they announced her. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a cute girl and all, but not lingerie sexy.

Anonymous said...

i think she's cute. i loved her in mona lisa smile. i think she's perfect for this ad campaign. she looks very betty boop- she has a retro pinup girl look, and her body is nice. besides, a great product can stand on its own, unlike cheap garbage like victoria's secret. if you appreciate nice lingerie, you will still like it even if starr jones is in the ad, it will still look and feel beautiful in real life. the quality and style will speak for itself.