One Step Forward for Valentino, 100 Steps Back for Women

by newsactivist on September 27, 2016 - 9:26pm

Prior to 2012, Valentino launched its Vogue Vanity campaign and it has since then received attention for all the wrong reasons. While the ad is meant to market an actually rather stunning red dress, it draws our attention instead to the mistreatment against women. In this advertisement, a woman is being pinned to the ground by a police officer as another man observes what is perceived by many as an act of violence. The subliminal message behind this ad is one of male dominance and authority over women. Although Valentino is attempting to market high end clothing in this advertisement, I am inclined to believe that rather than that, the objective behind the photograph is that beautiful women accept to be dominated in order to achieve a higher lifestyle standard and that men are of the opinion that women willingly accept to be dominated.The ad is also marketing a certain violent and possessive lifestyle that young men are empowered by and aspire to. 


Advertisements such as this encourage a culture that promotes violence and abuse towards women. But more disturbing than this is the passive submissive image portrayed by the woman in this ad. They way she allows herself to be pinned to the ground as though she has accepted her faith without a fight is an act that results in society normalizing violence against women. As stated by Jean Killbourne from Miss Representation, “turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step toward justifying violence against that person.” By portraying women as weak, passive and subjective to male dominance, we are encouraging this type of behaviour more and more and encouraging a culture that makes this behaviour acceptable.


The concept of male possession and absolute dominance over women is very prominent in this ad and is one that seems to be a trend in several other haute couture fashion advertisements. A Dolce and Gabanna advertisement launched in 2007, suggesting a similar message to this ad, received the attention of the Advertising Self-Discipline Institute "IAP". The IAP stated that the ad “offended the dignity of the woman, in the sense that the feminine figure is shown in a degrading manner.” These ads, as well as hundreds from other high end fashion lines, promotes the idea that women are sexual objects whose role is to satisfy men’s uncontrollable need for superiority. 


The problem with this advertisement lies in the fact that it has negative consequences on not only how young woman feel about themselves, but it also affects how they think they should be treated. We should be concerned about these ads as they deliver the idea to young women that whats depicted on these billboards and magazines is what they are expected to look and act like by societies standards. In addition, men are looking at these advertisements and are conditioned to think that it is normal, if not encouraged, for women to be treated with such disdain. A bigger and more worrisome predicament is that Valentino was certainly well aware that this advertisement would resonate in shock. Yet it published the ad anyways, as it would result in greater publicity and conversation for the Valentino brand. What is alarming is that Valentino is not the only example of a fashion brand that brings women down in the name of profit. Hundreds of companies worldwide are guilty of this and it continues to this day.


In order for an advertisement to be effective, it must hit a cord with the consumer by delivering a message that is honest, inspirational and meaningful. I believe that Valentino could achieve similar and if not higher recognition of his brand if he targets strong and independent women as his target customers. I would improve this advertisement by showcasing the woman as strong, powerful and independent as well as ensure that both the man and woman are equally respected. Rather than displaying a man pinning a woman to the floor, I would place them side by side instead. In a time when woman are striving for fair and equal representation, Valentino can assert itself as a promoter of women’s greater role in the world. This would not only attract a more positive and alluring brand but would help society as a whole change its stigma of gender inequality.



Works Cited, Amy Duncan for. "D&G in Hot Water Again as 'gang Rape' Advert Resurfaces." Metro Dolce Gabbana in Hot Water Again after Gang Rape Advert Resurfaces Just Days after IVFfurore Comments. N.p., 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.


Miss Representation. Dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Girls Club Entertainment, 2011. Netflix. Web. 24, September, 2016. 



What drew us to the post was the subject of the fashion industry as we have noticed that there is a lot of sexism in the media and in high fashion. This relates to the topic of male privilege. This advertisement shows that in a male dominated society, women are viewed as objects that can be dominated over and used by men. We noticed when looking at the original picture that his police shield is placed in between her thighs, further proving that men sexually dominate females and use them when in positions of power. Linking this to make privilege, it shows that men can make these sorts of ads promoting the dominance and inequality of females in relation to men. When large companies create ads with shock value in mind, it makes us wonder if they realize the consequences of their actions? They say that any press is good press, but in many cases that is wrong. These types of ads are damaging to not only vulnerable women but also to the companies as it shows their values, some of which may not be very good. We wholeheartedly agree that if Valentino or other brands were to advertise to strong independent women, it would not only generate positive press, but also show a positive message to women.