Floria Sigismondi’s new Gucci commercial mixes pretension, art and witchcraft to pleasing effect.
Perfume ads are, almost by default, atrocious. The sheer pomposity and clueless sense of faux-sophistication can, I guess, be excused by the fact that you can’t, of course, actually smell the product on TV and so have to be convinced by Hollywood stars and supermodels swanning around trying to look moody.
But on occasion, an ad comes along that, although embodying everything that makes these commercials so hilariously un-self-aware, nevertheless manages to rise above the cliches and limitations of the genre. Floria Sigismondi – who has had more artistic success as a commercials director than she has with feature films – has created a new promo for Gucci’s Bloom brand that channels the horror movies that she loves, most notably Suspiria (possibly not Argento’s Suspiria, but still…) and has a definite witchy vibe floating through it.
Sure, there are the predictable elements – fame-hungry pop dullard Florence Welch, culturally-approved Older Woman Anjelica Huston, Nick Cave’s wife Susie and model/actress Jodie Turner-Smith (“bold and inspiring women”, apparently, though quite why is anyone’s guess), all swanning around theatrical compound La Scarzuola. There are flowers with eyeballs, lost of fast cutting and – most impressively – Mazzy Star’s sublime Fade Into You on the soundtrack. it’s all very Witches of Instagram (though surely they don’t listen to terminally unhip rubbish like Florence and the Machine), but as a visual assault on the senses, it’s rather splendid.
Though perhaps not as splendid as website shots.com would have you believe, in a piece that gushes with inane pretension like “the fantasy sequence intensifies with frenetic energy as the film comes to its crescendo of floral explosion, reified through the stop-motion magic of the legendary Brothers Quay. Bursts of petals and flowers fall from the sky and shower the protagonists who continue to perform ritualistically as the momentum climaxes. It is a dark wonderland of suspended reality, replete with flowers that bloom to reveal darting eyes at their centers”. Settle down, there.