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.

Armani Jeans Megan Fox billboard – 2011 Number 2

Armani Jeans Megan Fox billboard - 14th Street in NYC

Installed at 14th Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan.

Like the Armani 2011 Number 1 and the last Armani billboard of 2010 also installed at 14th Street and 9th Avenue in New York City, the Megan Fox billboard shows a living woman set in an unfeeling environment. In the other ads, some elements — the wind and the steam — did have a dynamic quality that’s lacking here. The background of the Megan Fox billboard is old and dead. The two preceding advertisements contrasted the living model with the insentient city by showing her in color against the urban grays. With the new billboard, the entire image is shades of grey. The same contrast is achieved by showing Megan Fox’s smooth skin and many curves alongside the rough, cracked wall. Like the last billboard of 2010, a pole is a prominent feature of the image, here with Megan Fox embracing the upright. Before the emphasis –large feet, muscled legs, and broad shoulders — was on the strength and power of the models. As Megan Fox is as tall as the pole, the new piece stresses control.

Below is a close-up to show the text of the tattoos. As the script is too small to be normally read, does this provide subliminal input?

Armani Jeans Megan Fox billboard - close-up to show tattoo text

Emporio Armani NYC 14th Street billboard – 2011 Number 1

Emporio Armani NYC 14th Street billboard - 2011 Number 1

This graphic is similar in theme to Emporio Armani’s urban Amazon billboard, installed in the same location at the end of 2010. Again, the living flesh tones and action of the model contrast with the dead stone gray of the streetscape. Here the Armani-clad blond emerges from the shadows, where in the other ad the urban Amazon stepped out of a fog.

Armani’s new 2011 graphic shows a determined long-legged stride powered by large feet in high heels. With the wind quite clearly in her sails, this young lady’s clothes appear about to take off in the breeze. Reminiscent of the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe barely able to hold down a billowing dress, the ad taps into dreams of being naked in public. The head and neck of Armani’s Miss are now horizontal and the rest of the body might be expected to follow.

Marilyn Monroe billowing skirt

Emporio Armani NYC Billboard

Emporio Armani NYC Billboard

Installed on the corner of 14th Street and 9th Avenue in New York City

This Emporio Armani billboard works on several levels. On the most obvious, the vivid flesh tones of the model contrast with the greys of steel and stone. She is warm and alive, moving through a cold unfeeling streetscape. Stepping out of a fog, our urban Amazon not only can’t be missed, but actually dominates the scene. This external message is that by means of Armani, you’ll no longer blend into the background.

The image contains a number of curious elements. One erect heavy-leather high-heeled foot is firmly planted on the sidewalk. Literally the central element, a large strong hand grips an Armani bag that seems to protrude from between the serious Ms’s legs. Penetrating the image is the bulk of the upright of a traffic signal pole that extends from a broader base.

Emporio Armani NYC rooftop billboard

Myths might tell you that culture heroes are in heaven. Billboards can show them there.