Eternity really is a vacation at the beach, but Klein should give his 'vision' a rest

February 25, 1997|By Susan Reimer

CALVIN KLEIN, the designer who brought us waifs and teen-aged junkie wanna-be's, has discovered marriage and family.

Heaven help us mommies and daddies.

In an advertising campaign that began last week, supermodel Christy Turlington has found herself a stud-daddy in newcomer Norbert Michalke and they are romping on the beach with two children in praise of "Eternity," the Calvin Klein fragrance, one presumes, for family vacations.

The print ad is an eight-page, black-and-white picture story that begins with a couple and moves to a family of four on an isolated beach. It premiered in this deluxe form in the March issues of Vanity Fair, Vogue, Elle and Allure. It is stunning for its departure from the glamour of the fashion and fragrance ads around it.

The television ad, which will begin showing soon, is a black-and-white home video of the same scenes. The only sounds are of sea gulls and the waves. A voice-over at the conclusion says, "Eternity. Calvin Klein."

"It is a departure for Calvin," said spokeswoman Jan Sharkansky.

"It is a return to what Calvin feels is a very important statement of family values, everlasting love and nesting and intimacy. A return to the traditional."

Which implies that Calvin was once traditional, and not the guy who mainstreamed anorexic girls and half-naked, tattooed boys, which is what, if you want to know, us potential Eternity buyers fear the most.

"Calvin always seems to have a vision of the cultural statement to come," said Sharkansky.

" 'Obsession' was about sex and passion in the '80s. For him, the '90s are about the return of everlasting love. For Calvin, that's Eternity."

What the ads don't say is that if you don't do a decent job of raising the children in your family of everlasting love, they will end up in an ad for Calvin Klein jeans.

It was that 1995 campaign, you will recall, that featured young models showing a lot of "vulnerability" and a fair amount of underwear. The models were photographed with their legs akimbo and looking like they were nodding off in a shooting gallery.

Charges of child pornography rained down on Calvin and he pulled the ads, but he had made his point. He was aiming at a generation of jean buyers, "who do only what they want to do."

Now we have a view of marriage and family from the man whose view of blue jeans is aimed at the crotch and who thinks that kids "who do only what they want to do" belong on a billboard in Times Square.

In the Calvin Klein Eternity family, the kids play on driftwood two stories high while Mommy and Daddy, tangled in each other's arms, enjoy after-glow in a hammock.

You can pipe in all the calming wave sounds you want, but if they are my kids, I am up and shrieking, "Get down from there! Do you want to get killed!"

And I am turning to my husband, who is probably dozing in a hammock, and yelling, "Honey, do something!"

In the scenes that follow, everybody is awake and playing in the waves and nobody is whining about anything.

(Apparently the Eternity children do not wear the perfume; they just spill it while fooling around in mother's bedroom where they don't belong, and then get yelled at. But this takes place off camera.)

This ad does not sell me perfume. Perfume is about romance and fantasy and I don't want kids in my ads for perfume anymore than I want kids in my fantasies of romance.

Calvin was on to something in the early ad campaigns for Eternity, in the late 1980s. Christy and her man were on the beach murmuring to each other, "I look at you and I see myself. As long as we are together, time can't touch us."

I don't know, but I am thinking this is probably the same beach. They probably brought the kids here years later to visit the scene of their love's first blush and rekindle those feelings.

And I'm thinking they are, like, incredibly disappointed.

Because now the only Eternity in their lives is the Eternity it takes to do anything when you have kids.

Pub Date: 2/25/97

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