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Brand X: Dead Heat

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Brand: Cesare Paciotti
Agency: A/R Media (N.Y.)
Creative director: Alex Wiederin
Photographer: Taryn Simon

Now that Benetton has fetishized death row with its Talk insert featuring moody portraits of murderers and rapists, what's left for an adventurous advertiser to do? Why, fetishize death itself, of course. In a new series of ads running in fashion glossies, Cesare Paciotti, which has boutiques on Madison Avenue and in Beverly Hills, shows three glamorous young ladies hanging out in a cemetery -- and from the looks of it, they're not there to read Sylvia Plath poetry by moonlight. One gal sits in nonchalant repose, framed by her decidedly ghoulish boyfriend and a not-yet-interred casket. Another, legs spread to reveal black panties beneath a shimmery frock, sits on a gravestone and glares lustily into the distance. A lovely with a Mona Lisa smile kneels with her boyfriend at a grave site and uses one long, leather-gloved hand to steady herself on a headstone. (Startlingly bad taste, yes -- but at least everybody's wearing black!) The net effect isn't so much necrophilic as it is Sopranos-chic -- a self-conscious invocation by an Italian design house of the mob's code of detachment when facing death. Another member of the familia is down? Yes, it's terribly sad, but it's business, too, and you use what you must to carry on. Tony Soprano has Prozac. These soulless young ladies have haute couture.


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