Fashion ad rebels Benetton have taken an unusually sedate approach in their new Spring/Summer 2013 campaign.
Known as the industry's most shocking brand - in terms of its advertising at least - Benetton's bold, prejudice-tackling campaigns have been getting the company in trouble since the 80s. As recently as 2011 it was forced to pull an ad that depicted the Pope kissing the grand imam of al-Azhar on the mouth.
It's SS 13 adverts, focusing on "the iconic value of colour", are colourful but relatively quiet, with nine celebrity ambassadors posing in bright summer outfits alongside the company logo. In its press materials, each personality explains the significance of colour in their lives, including pink-haired Californian model Charlotte Free, who has cross-sensory condition synesthesia and Sudanese-British supermodel Alek Wek, who says the colours she wears affect the way she feels.
For me, colors give me – they bring out how Alek is feeling on the inside. When you put on a color, it could be the same, exact same sweater but, I don’t know, in black, and it just translates completely different. - Alek Wek
The campaign also features British model Dudley O’Shaughnessy, Tunisian model Hanaa Ben Abdesslem, American actress Kiera Chaplin, German model Mario Galla, Brazilian model Lea T, American model Elettra Wiedemann and Uruguayan chef Matias Perdomo. Benetton says the celebrities were chosen on the basis that they have distinguished themselves for their "multiculturality, cosmopolitan spirit and social commitment," highlighting the prejudices faced by trans-sexual model Lea T and Galla, who has a leg prothesis.
Lea T., Keira Chaplin and Elettra Weideman, above
Wek is praised for her active committment to exposing the humanitarian disaster in her homeland, Chaplain for supporting UNESCO and Ben Abdesslem - one of the few Arab Muslim models in industry - for her commitment and professionalism. Perdomo, Benetton says, "has brought an original intercontinental mix to his restaurant in Milan, combining tradition and innovation."
German model Mario Galla in Benetton's Spring/Summer 2013 campaign, above
The clothes are simple designs in a wide palette of colours, with an emphasis on the brand's iconic knitwear.
Chairman Alessandro Benetton said: “The iconic value of color - a founding value for United Colors of Benetton and once again at the centre of our aesthetics and communications - to give a powerful assertion of the identity and excellence of this brand, which holds diversity as a value, and the unity of differences as a wealth to be treasured.”
Watch Lea T. in a video for the Benetton campaign:
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Words: Anna Pollitt. Images: United Colors of Benetton