September, when ads abound

Magazines

September 01, 1996|By Matthew Gilbert | Matthew Gilbert,BOSTON GLOBE

It's the season for ads. September means new beginning, which means new attitude, which means new wardrobe, which means a fleet of new magazine issues as glossy as patent leather and as smelly as Filene's first floor and as thick and heavy as the Yellow Pages.

This year, the endless pages of finely photographed print commercials are particularly stark and artsy, not to mention interchangeable, not to mention thick-papered and pushy.

A virtual mini-Hollywood of famous people shows up to trade on their images, most notably Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (clothed) in the Donna Karan spreads, Willem Dafoe in the Prada series, Rupert Everett in the Opium for Men (I kid you not) perfume foldouts, Savion Glover in the Filasport layouts and a leggy Tina Turner pumping Hanes hosiery.

The two Calvin Klein campaigns are particularly amusing and pretentious.

The 12-page CK perfume spreads are peopled with ordinary fringe-sters (and the ubiquitous Kate Moss) who are so confidently washed out and imperfect they look just like famous rock stars. They make fame seem accessible to consumers (for a small price). They have that "just crawled out of my Seattle shooting gallery to score" look, but I guess we are supposed to think they like to smell pretty good. It's "Trainspotting" American-style. The folks in CK's jeans spreads appear to have more money and education, but they also look disenfranchised and, especially in the case of one fierce woman, a little imbalanced.

My favorite, though, is the lurid Guess knitwear and jeans lady. Imagine if Liv Tyler got made over by Elvira, or if Valerie Bertinelli turned on, tuned in and dropped way out. She's ghoulish and devil-may-care and, I guess, pretty hip.

Mass culture

Don't try rolling up the September GQ and tucking it into your back pocket; it's 320 pages thick (September's Vanity Fair is 358).

But it's got a fun piece by Joe Queenan called "How Bad Can It Be?" that nicely delineates the different levels of American popular culture. The always-entertaining Queenan decides to foray beyond his "elite, effete" tastes, which include Elvis Costello and Igor Stravinsky and Tom McGuane and Henry James, and so he plunges into "the culture of the masses."

"Until I saw 'Billy Madison' and 'Tommy Boy,' I'd always thought that the three scariest words in the English language were 'starring Dan Aykroyd,' " Queenan writes in one of the piece's many priceless mean lines.

John Tesh's recent CD, he says, sounded "so much like dentist's-office music that I inexplicably found myself flossing in the middle of the day."

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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