Armani Exchange billboard- 2011 Number 3

Armani Exchange billboard NYC 14th and 9th - April 2011

Installed at 14th Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan

Though Freud was not able to answer the question “What do women want?,” Armani here confidently replies to that query’s male equivalent: good abs.

Apparently photographed while talking, the young man most prominent in the image really does not seem to be conversing with the woman. Not looking at anyone in particular, the male model might be chatting to himself or offering a bit of advice to someone in the street. Essentially he stands alone and like a statue. As the female model’s left arm appears to be about to swing out of the picture, it looks like she is walking, but a step or so behind the man. Her gaze and one hand on his shoulder is more of adoration than of desire.

The billboard has two points of focus: the man’s midsection and the woman’s left hand. The conclusion from this is that the models were photographed separately and then Photoshop was the matchmaker. Also, the woman’s right hand has a disembodied quality. An interesting feature of the composition is the text placed just below the models’ crotches, as if to underline those portions of their anatomies.

There are some differences between this Armani billboard and the ones that preceded. The current version is completely in color, where the others were mostly or all shades of grey. The earlier ones featured a lone woman, while this one shows a man and a woman. Strength, with the hands in particular, is not prominently displayed here. The women in the other billboards often were powerful with over-sized Davidesque hands. Even though the male model has Mediterranean looks and is practically semi-nude, there ends the resemblance to Michalangelo’s Goliath killer. The model’s one hand that’s shown is delicate and dangling. Both the man and the woman are not accessorized by the apparel; instead, the pair are the garments’ decorations.

And then there’s the out-of-focus secondary man, obscured by the woman. Who is that? That’s the primary man’s old, pre-Armani self who’s now out of the picture.

Abercrombie & Fitch Meat Packing District billboard

Abercrombie & Fitch Meat Packing District billboard

Installed in New York City’s Meat Packing District

This Abercrombie & Fitch billboard portrays waves lapping at a reclining young man’s legs and hips. Even though the water’s action appears quite gentle, energetic spurts of foam are the result.

The image omits below the belt anatomy, but without awareness the viewer’s mind completes the picture. If any prompting is required for this mental process, the partially obscured letters in the brand name provide the cue.

As the model’s face is not completely shown, the ad’s target is free to put himself in the picture and thus imagine how Abercrombie & Fitch apparel will make him look and feel.