Here we go again with the high fashion obsession with beautiful, dead women. Gucci’s fall ad campaign was shot in the Marrakech desert but the photos look like something from an episode of CSI.
Hell, if I wore an ostrich motorcycle jacket and velvet pants into the middle of the Moroccan desert, and brought along a $2400 bag instead of a canteen, I’d probably drop dead too. But “dead in the dirt” is creepy and unsettling, no matter how high the heels. In this photo, Raquel Zimmerman and Joan Smalls lie prone and limp while a man circles them like a vulture, taking in the grotesque view.
Same models, same prone poses. Is that their car in the background? Did the expressionless man highjack and kill them? What’s he going to do with them now that they’re sprawled on his hood?
Of course, you can’t do a beautiful corpse ad campaign without at least one picture that expressly hints at violence and rape. In this shot, Nikola Jovanovic is perched upon his golden throne leering down at Raquel Zimmerman, whose skirt is hiked up to her thigh, legs askew. His foot positioned strategically over her throat makes it disgustingly clear he can do, perhaps already has done, whatever he likes to the motionless model.
Gucci certainly isn’t the first to use female dead bodies in their ads. Beautiful corpses are an extension of the almost universal objectification of women in advertising combined with the trope that says helpless, silent women are the best kind. Rendering women dead, or at least disturbingly unconscious, strips them of their agency and sexualizes violence against them. Gucci’s glorification of violence normalizes something that’s already far too prevalent – in the United States, 3 women per day are murdered by their intimate partners. Something tells me those crime scenes are decidedly less picture perfect.