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Diesel Image Analysis Academic Purposes 12 May 2008 By Shanna Paxton

Diesel Image Analysis By Shanna Paxton

“For Successful Living”, Renzo Rosso’s motto in life has turned Diesel into a world wide success in the fashion industry, promoting individuality amongst the youth. Not only are their items of clothing original, but the way in which the items are presented to the public is highly innovative as well, focusing on world wide issues [Designboom 2000], such as global warming, human development, sexual harassment or animal rights issues. Diesel was the first brand that used this technique that combines a metaphorical and symbolic take on the world’s issues, socially, politically and culturally [Designboom 2000].

The following essay seeks to provide a thorough analysis of the Diesel advert “Woman in cages”. The main topics being discussed are namely: visual elements in the image; basic analysis of the image (in terms of form and



Diesel Image Analysis Academic Purposes 12 May 2008 By Shanna Paxton

composition); the visual symbolism; the semiotics within the image; as well as the cultural, social and political arrangement. The space in which the shoot takes place imitates a pet shop scene, the room is filled with caged woman dressed in coats made from animals, there is a till and possibly a shopkeeper counting money in the background and in the foreground are the Diesel people, one of whom has an iguana on his shoulder. The eight caged woman seem to be in their late twenties, they out number the diesel people by five, it is only the ‘shopkeeper’ that seems to be in his mid thirties and is quite distant in the image, he is the only one that is not looking at the man and iguana. These women are dressed in natural coloured furs, two of them are wearing matching hats with their outfits, there is also one striking caged woman who is wearing a feathery outfit and is in a more ornate cage in contrast to the others that are more block like. They are also not wearing any shoes and about three quarters of their tanned legs are showing. The diesel girl greatly differs from the caged woman, for one thing she is free, the different colours of her clothing and semi-covered legs (fishnet stockings thus not completely bare legged), black boots and ordinary straight hair are brought out amongst all the extravagant fur and made up hair. The males are dressed simply, an ordinary denim outfit with a maroon shirt on the dark haired male, and the other wears a tan corduroy jacket and is the only one wearing jewels (three necklaces and a rather large earring).

The expressions amongst the caged woman are those of desperateness being, forlorn, mysterious in the shadows, miserable and feeble. The entire pack of caged women are looking at the man in denim, one is even trying to reach out towards him. Some are sitting on something or on the bottom of the cage and one can almost stand (woman on the left). The Diesel people are free to move and roam around in contrast to the caged women and can sit or stand as they please. The Diesel people 3 are placed in the form of a triangle in the centre of the room with these caged women surrounding them in a ‘u shape’ increasing the captivity feeling that runs through the image. Their cages are placed from the back to the front, from right to left, creating a gestalt effect. The gestalt effect is a technique used in photographic



Diesel Image Analysis Academic Purposes 12 May 2008 By Shanna Paxton

compositions to create the feeling of completeness (Freeman 2007:39). The women are all placed in a way that they all have legs swung to one side but are able to see the denim wearing man, they are in some cases their bodies contorted due to the lack of space in the cage. Two of the Diesel members have their backs facing all the women except the one dressed in feathers, the other is in the middle of the room but is focusing on the man with the iguana.

This room has cold cement floors, on top of these floors are metals cages, but the walls bring in some colour, lavender which is considered elegant and delicate. The silver chair with wheels and steel-like table top complete the look of this physiologically cold environment. There is bright lighting coming from above slightly, in front, and slightly to the right, casting long shadows on the floor and wall. There is even a shadowlike block on the shoulder of the one Diesel member that gives either the feeling of gestate or just plain creepy. There are three labels on this image, the top left one being the DEISEL logo; the bottom left is the “Successful Living” motto of Diesel; and on the right hand bottom corner is the other Diesel logo, which has the face of a tribe member and the writing “Diesel only the brave”. Photography is about communication, so how and why these elements have been placed the way they are is of importance, which will now be discussed.

The background is always as important as the elements that decorate it. The cement floor adds a neutral tone to the image thus allowing one to focus more on what is happening in the image, compared to if it were white the eye would keep getting drawn toward it, this would be ineffective to the image. The wall is painted lavender, which suggests elegance, delicateness, femininity and grace; which is a total contrast to what is actually happening in the image, the only other purpose that this colour serves in this image is that it softens the effect of just



Diesel Image Analysis Academic Purposes 12 May 2008 By Shanna Paxton

cement, metal and natural colours in the rest of the image. If this image is divided into thirds horizontally and vertically, one will see how the elements are distributed. In the yellow part of the image is seven of the eight caged woman, they is placed on top of each other, next to each other and behind one another, giving a feeling of crowdedness and captivity. Some have ladders or benches in the cage to sit on, but further back in the image are three cages where the woman sits on the bottom of the cage floor, they also seem more enraged and almost scary (the woman to the right in the shadow). In contrast the Diesel people have space to move around in, they are free to sit or stand as they please. It also seems that they are not wearing animal products, instead of wearing natural colours they are wearing bright colours. They are thus individuals not conforming to this disgusting trend of adorning oneself with animal fur; they are wearing supposedly animal friendly clothing. Although they only really take up 2/9 of the image the eye is always drawn to this part of the photo. All the caged women are looking at the denim man, the Diesel woman’s leg points towards this man, and the other man has his shoulder pointed in his direction and is also looking at him. The female and blonde man seem very distant from the whole seen as if they aren’t even aware of what’s going on, where as the man in denim looks concerned and has his hand toward, almost touching the ‘bird lady’. The different logos are placed going from top left, down to the right bottom corner, typical of how the eye reads an image.

The Diesel people all seem to have different reactions to the situation in which they find themselves. The female seems to be focusing on the denim man, she has a look of disbelief on her face and the way her head is tilted seems like she might be shaking her head, a way of maybe coping with the chaos around her, the man in the tan jacket seems disgusted; one cannot even really see his face, but his body language speaks for him, then the denim man’s facial expression seems confused, possibly laughing to himself and the iguana about this bizarre situation. The body language of the girl is confident; she is upright and cross legged facing the men who have their backs turned towards her, possibly as a sign of disapproval, maybe they think because she



Diesel Image Analysis Academic Purposes 12 May 2008 By Shanna Paxton

sits there next to the shopkeeper smiling that she is a part of this. These three un-caged people are in contrast to the man behind the counter, who is smiling in a joyous way, happy to receive money perhaps. The Diesel people don’t seem too detached from the scene but the two are more aloof than the man in denim.

What is the meaning of this image? What is it trying to educate us about?

The image has bizarrely placed women in fur coats in cages, they are acting like animals to, surely the issue that this advert concerns is about animals being killed for fur, and further into animal rights. If one does research on fur farming, one will find horrifying articles and movie clips of how animals are farmed, treated, killed (if they are lucky) and skinned. There are many issues about how the different animals are treated before being killed to make coats or other accessories, it varies from the animals being malnourished, and to being locked up in small cages from the moment they are born to prevent movement. Then there are the killing methods, the most ‘humane’ way to kill an animal is to stun it, but if this is not done properly the animal could still be conscious while it is being either boiled or skinned alive, traumatizing it beyond comprehension. Some places don’t care if they are alive while they are skinned either. Approximately 64% of fur farms are in Northern Europe, 11% in North America, and the other 25% is throughout the world. In Australia 6 of their provinces have banned fur farms, in the other three there are strict laws in which the animals are treated properly [Microsoft Encarta 2000], this is great because not only are animals getting treated better in their remaining days, it has become expensive to run thus resulting in the closing down of fur production in some cases. It took two years for the UK to ban fur factories officially.

So after discussing fur factories and how the animals are treated, could this image possibly be about ‘you are what you wear’. If you wear a particular kind of clothing, you are supporting that industry. So if you wear fur coats you are supporting the fur industry, you are supporting the killing of animals in mostly



Diesel Image Analysis Academic Purposes 12 May 2008 By Shanna Paxton

inhumane ways. You are the murderer for supporting it and should be punished, in this case caged, for doing so. Why should animals be killed for unnecessary things like fur coats when there are other options like polyester coats to keep one warm. In certain cultures (i.e. the Khoi Khoi), when an animal is killed for food, in order to survive, the animal is thanked for its sacrifice, it is treated with dignity.

Diesel’s concept of the individual and rejection of conformism is present in this advert it could possibly be seen as a message of don’t follow the crowd, become a conscious thinking person. Think about that clothing before you buy it, do not conform, be an individual. It could be said that this image depicts that Diesel is against fur coats and in a deeper sense, the fur industry. Diesel focuses on promoting individualism, not the promise of a certain lifestyle if one were to buy their products. Their statements on issues such as animal’s rights in this case, are evident in their campaigns. They want people to become more aware not only of their own individualism but of the world wide issues too. Renzo Rosso feels that Diesel wear is “no more violence towards the final customer saying to buy this product or that brand, but rather involvement in the life-style, and if you like it perhaps you can buy those clothes. Giving the consumer the chance to choose something and not to consider him a robot condemned to respond to the advertising message.” [Designboom 2000]

List of references:

“Animal Rights,” Microsoft® Encarta® 2007 Microsoft Incorporation. All rights reserved.2000, Interview with Renzo Rosso, Designboom, (Online) Available at:

2000, History and Background on Diesel, Fragrance X. com, (Online) Available at:



Diesel Image Analysis Academic Purposes 12 May 2008 By Shanna Paxton

Freeman, M. 2007, The Photographer’s Eye, ILEX, United Kingdom.

Background reading:

Griffiths, M. 1996, ‘A Semiotic Analysis Of Diesel Print Ads’, (Online) Available at:"Fur Industry," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopaedia 2007 © 1997-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

2008, Wikipedia: Renzo Rosso [Online] Available at:

2008, Human after all, Notcot, (Online) Available at:



Diesel Analysis