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The aim of this essay is to deconstruct subliminal messages and meanings that are conveyed in the ‘See by Chloé’ fragrance advertisement. By going into a detailed analysis of the ‘See by Chloé’ brand image that is conveyed in the advert, I will discuss the many connotations that the brand wishes to portray. However by analysing the advert within a traditional and Marxist feminist context, this challenges the viewer to interpret the advertisement as an ironic paradox; condemning the male gaze and irony of the products placement. Lastly when we deconstruct the adverts semiotics within context of the Chloé brand ascetic, does it maintain the same timeless quality and delicacy of the diffusion lines older sister? In the ‘See by Chloé’ fragrance advert the natural background keeps in with the perfume’s tagline which promises to be the “the perfect way to express the spontaneous, natural, irresistible you”(‘See by Chloe-fragrence’2012 [ONLINE]). Nature and femininity are all common associations with youth and the emergence into womanhood. The transparency of the pales greens and white lighting in the image evoke purity, freedom and most of all innocence and subsequent ignorance of the world. These light colours also depict a dreamlike atmosphere and a timeless fantasy of their future lives, which identifies with their consumer target of 18-25 year olds who are in a transitional period in their lives; just discovering the world of Chloé. The ‘See By Chloé’ logo is a central viewpoint in the advert and is also emblazoned upon the silver neck of the glass bottle. The logo’s unique shade of pink can tell us much about the brand’s perception of what the ‘Chloé’ girl should be like. The melon tinged undertone of the pink is a reminder that their fragrance isn’t for the average ‘girly girl’, but a girl who is stylish and sophisticated ‘blending masculine codes in a chic way’(Chloe Press Release. 2012. Now Smell This. [ONLINE]). The design concept behind the bird cage bottle was to signify a bird waiting to bet set free “once the cage is opened” (Chloe Press Release. 2012. Now Smell This. [ONLINE]). The symbolic and poetic concept appeals to a discerning consumer who may subconsciously buy into Chloé’s vision of empowerment and escapism. The styling of the advert keeps in with this concept, as the model’s perfectly crimped ‘birds nest’ hair implies that she has been set free from her cage of adolescence and symbolises an independent attitude. The lack of clothing that the model wears can give an inspiring perception that she is not weighed down by strict fashion styles and consumerism. Like a bird she has shed her feathers and weighing down past and ready to journey into the Chloé promise of starting a new life afresh outside of her cage. Equally the placement of her hands on the masculine leather jacket embodies the notion that she is in control. However the ‘See by Chloé’ brand can be seen as a paradox, the ideal Chloé woman is meant to be feminine with a masculine edge, she is both a woman and a child, sensual and innocent all in one. These ‘Lolita’ qualities fall into and perpetuate a subconscious and perverted male fantasy; the male gaze in the image finds fulfilment in their previsions of looking at the girl-child model. Whilst still holding onto his moral conscience, believing the perception that he is only a blameless onlooker; unaware that he is actively fuelling an age old perception that a man has a right to ‘innocently’ objectify women. Kimberly Oliver defines that the act of objectifying woman is dangerous, in the fact that a young woman’s worth is believed to be dominated by her outward beauty. A patriarchal notion created by “societies focus on ‘body image’’ whereby the “body is no longer seen as subjectively experienced, but rather as an object”(Oliver, Kimberly L. 1999).


Kimberly Oliver’s critique of the fashion and beauty industry is nothing new. The notion of objectifying women in art is something that has been present since the 1700s, where portraits depict ‘modest’ woman showing respect and humility by refusing eye contact with the artists gaze(Clark, Z, 2008). Artist’s subjects in the 1700s were objectified like the model in the Chloé advert who is being photographed to sell the fragrance. The fragmentation and control of all contrived images, denies women the role of being seen as an active subject. Their passivity makes them become both a figure of adoration or abuse. The ‘See by Chloé’ advert succumbs to this dangerous notion; ironically the design concept of a bird cage juxtaposes freedom as it does entrapment. The product placement within the advert is connected and draws attention to the models ‘nakedness’, inferring that the girl only finds acceptance and subsequent freedom in fulfilling the wishes of the male gaze. Referring back to the symbolic associations of the adverts lighting and the models confident stance, these all imply the tragic notion that the Chloé subject is consciously aware that her purity is alluring to the male onlooker. Like Vladimir Nabokov’s protagonist the model somewhat subverts the position of power in the advert; she is aware that she is being scrutinised and adored. Whether this is tragic or signifies the empowerment and freedom that the Chloé brand want to exude is left to be subjectively debated. Yet the dangerous repercussions of an idea that female power is gained through beauty cannot be ignored and the tragic ending of such a futile notion is predicted by the feminist poet Marge Piercy in ‘Barbie Girl’(Poem Hunter. 2004). Whose “girlchild” protagonist is eventually destroyed by the weight of society’s expectations on outward appearance, a nod to the growing economic power of cosmetics companies, who dominate the media and thrive from woman’s insecurities. Criticisms aside, the timeless quality of the adverts keeps in with the heritage of the Chloé Brand, the vintage bird cage design is a classic symbol of luxury, beauty and nature and exudes connotations of the privileged heritage that the ‘See by Chloé’ brand comes from. The younger consumer may purchase the fragrance because of the feminine and quintessentially French ascetic that the advert and brand embodies. Equally the design concept links well to the diffusion lines name ‘See’, a cage is a see through habitat. Despite the protruding male gaze that is prominent in the adverts fragmentation of objectifying the model, it can be argued that the Chloé brand is in fact teaching its young discerning consumers a lesson. The advert, its concept and timeless ascetic, embody a quote which inspired and was referenced by feminist novelist Angela Carter “Can a bird sing only the song it knows, or can it learn a new song”(The Guardian,2006). The fact that this is the first fragrance from the ‘See by Chloé’ diffusion line may nod towards Carter’s inspiration, they hope for a better future for their young consumers, the brand wishes to celebrate the positive notion of ‘possibility’ not constraint. List of References Clark, Z, 2008. The bird that came out of the cage . The bird that came out of the cage a foucauldian feminist approach to kate chopin's the awakening, Volume 12 Issue 4, 335-347. Now Smell This. 2013. See by Chloe. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nstperfume.com/2013/02/21/see-by-chloe-perfume-review/. [Accessed 24 March 13].


The Guardian. 2006. Femme fatale. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/jun/24/classics.angelacarter. [Accessed 24 March 13]. Poem Hunter. 2004. Barbie Doll. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/barbiedoll/. [Accessed 25 March 13]. Oliver, Kimberly L. 1999. Adolescent girls’ body-narrative: Learning to desire and create a “fashionable” image. [ONLINE] Available at: http://education.nmsu.edu/perd/documents/adolescent-girls.pdf. [Accessed 20 March 13].

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