Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love & Seduction in Fashion

Sexuality is a common fashion subject. The term however is very general and can be seen more specifically in messages of both love & seduction.

Steven Meisel, Ferre SS 2009

1. What do we observe in reality & media that communicates the message? Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or class, people express love and seduction through clothing. This is not only by gender expression but in aiming to attract others.

Desirability is subjective. Love and seduction as are normally associated with showing off the body as in the images above through arms, chest and legs. There are however sophisticated strategies of seduction as in the mother figure above which can also be seen as loving. Below, the androgynous form can be found and among men the dominant seduction codes are the expression of their power through suits, power uniforms (pilots or professional athletes) or simply showing the athletic chest.

Media is dominated by images of love, seduction and sexuality.

Two public figures that communicate love and seduction through their clothing are Kate Moss, who shows skin and sexual poses in her personal life candid shots above, and Matthew McConaughey who is often seen either in unbuttoned suits or shirtless.

2. How can we describe the message? Communicating sexuality is a desire to connect with others by love and a process of seduction.






Honesty, openness

Between all people


Heterosexual, Homosexual

Femininity, Masculine


Skin, touching


The bedroom, hotel

"Love & Seduction" is a blended allegory of capitalism. The codes are sometimes soft and romantic resembling love, and sometimes more sexually charged and they are often combined.

3. What writing also expresses this message? In the posts below there are two important texts. A Lover's Discourse by Roland Barthes analyzes the signs of love. Seduction by Jean Baudrillard explains the process of seducing as does Neil Stauss' The Game.

4. What clothing forms communicate this message? The historic corset has transited its way into outward clothing. This along with any visible presentation of under clothes are seen as seductive, inviting others in to one's privacy. Anything that clings to the body or reveals the body's form is also seductive.

In general any clothing forms that elicit touch as considered to seek love and practice seduction.
Wedding clothes are expressions of love but when designed to expose the body or modify gender expression they communicate seduction.

5. What images communicate this message? There is no shortage of fashion photography that communicates love and seduction.

Tim Walker
Guy Bourdin above and Mert & Marcus below. The bedroom and hotel room are common settings for scenes of love and seduction.

The mystery man, Louis Vuitton 2000 and Derek Lam 2010
A 3 image sequence advertorial by Prada, 2000 shows a couple meeting, confronting one another and embracing

6. What brands communication this message? There are many brands that sell sex but a few that are precise in their communication.

The Kooples brand image is built on the love of real world couples.

Gaultier has spent decades establishing a brand that communicates a provocative form of seduction seen online and in the print campaign below.

Versace is a fashion house that is associated with Italian glamour and power but it's online brand strategy and print campaigns communicate a very feminine form of seduction.

Calvin Klein is well known for a seductive strategy. The famous 1981 Brooke Shields commercial set a precedent for brand values that continue. The Eternity commercial focused on romantic love using real life lovers Christy Turlington and husband Ed Burns.

Eva Mendes, 2009

Chloe presents an online brand that emphasizes love and using print campaigns that show woman intimately connecting and showing a sisterly love for one another.

7. What is a binary message? An opposing message to love and seduction is refusal and resistance. For example the faith based modesty of the Amish of Eastern sects use full coverage clothing to communicate a refusal of open sexuality. While the man on the right shows family love for his child, seduction is not being communicated to the outward world by his clothing.

The Bennetton ad below, showing barbed wire from war zones around the world communicates the hatred that exists in the world.


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