Petronio Associates

Posted by wayne | April 18th, 2011

The idea of fashion today is the idea of the still image as seen in glossy magazine pages and big city billboards and posters. The fashion photographers of our moment, in trying to continue the tradition of the modern masters of the trade ( Penn, Avedon and Newton ) have been sustaining this art of creating a decisive fashion moment, around the movement of a model in a photo-shoot, where ideas of hair, make-up, styling, lighting have all aligned to create the single frame ideal of fashion. But that was the 20th century. As it becomes clear that the 21st century is digitally driven, how will an entire culture of editors, photographers and advertisers adapt to an audience that grew up with the amplified imagery of music videos and video-games who now view all media through a computer screen?

how will an entire culture of editors, photographers and advertisers adapt to an audience that grew up with the amplified imagery of music videos and video-games who now view all media through a computer screen?

What happens when the static image in fashion is no longer compelling or adequate? What happens when a new generation starts to insist that these perfectly crafted images should start to move to the current rhythm… the digital pulse of the internet, of the iPad… of their smart-phones? The consumer has started moving faster than the producers of fashion in terms of adjusting to an idea of fashion that promises to be a visual revolution. And yet there are a few pioneering companies who are now engaging this shift to their early advantage.

As a part of a new MDX series we sought to explore the issue with Petronio Associates, the agency formed by Ezra Petronio and Suzanne Koller in 1994. Petronio and Associates also publishes the biannual fashion magazine Self Service. As a creative agency the company’s client list represents a selection of some of the world’s leading luxury brands including A.P.C., Chanel, Chloé, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent.

Chloé Parfums Love, Chloé Advertising campaign 2010 Digital communication

In addition to this video cut exclusively for MDX, featuring some of the agency’s landmark ad work as well as a preview of some forthcoming images Petronio and Associates shared some quick thoughts on the issue of modern digital fashion.

On embracing the possibilities of the iPad:

We really liked the idea that people all over the world could access Self Service magazine through the app. We wanted to reach out to our readers outside of Europe. We had a really positive reaction from Self Service readers and clients on our made-to-measure iPad ads for Yves Saint Laurent, Love Chloé fragrance and A.P.C. We are exploring more possibilities for the Self Service issue n°35 app.

On what the consumer is looking for from digital fashion:

We don’t think he is looking for anything particularly different than when he opens a print magazine: a voice, soul, vision and creativity. Consumers won’t sacrifice on quality, clarity, information and immediacy on digital platforms.


Yves Saint Laurent Edition 24 2010 Digital lookbook

On Self Service magazine as a design lab for Petronio Associates:

It’s more of a mood that we share rather than specific ideas. It’s also a way to meet like-minded people. Self Service is a window on to our creative work and reveals our graphic and design sensibilities. We enjoy having this creative experimental outlet that remains separate from Petronio Associates. Having Self Service and the agency provokes strong creative crossover in terms of photography and art direction.

On balancing aesthetic values within the limits of technology:

While there are certain restrictions and adaptations that need to be made with digital design, they are not all that different than the restrictions that exist within traditional formats. Each type media provides an opportunity. It’s important to work with the media and not against it. Each format is best at displaying certain types of content and should be used as such –an iPad is not a TV, a webpage is not a book or magazine. Something beautiful can be created for any media without compromise. All of our clients want to embrace digital. They’re interested and know they have to be present so our role is to advise and accompany them. Recently we were asked by Yves Saint Laurent to conceive of the communications strategy around the Edition 24 2010 collection. From the shoot we were able to create a film for their website, digital look book and visual identity for the brand.

Yves Saint Laurent Advertising campaign F/W 2010 Digital communication

On digitally platforming a mass market US brand or fast fashion company:

We love the idea. It just happened incidentally that we work with European clients. It would be an interesting challenge to work with a mass market US brand. We would definitely find it an interesting challenge to adapt a high-fashion aesthetic to a fast-fashion company.

Is the luxury consumer still driven by print or is digital becoming primary?

In our view the attention of the consumer is focused mainly on the internet because of the immediacy of the medium, which doesn’t just apply to luxury goods. For the luxury customer nothing can replace the experience of going into a store or reading a high-fashion magazine, at least for the moment.

Do things like detailing, high quality, craftsmanship or subtle texture gets noticed on a computer?

The tactile quality of objects will become more and more objects of luxury, possibly enhancing their value and quality of the content we put on them. As things become more internet-oriented a printed edition of Self Service magazine will become something more collectable and precious, as people collect objects and value them.

Chloé Advertising campaign S/S 2011
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13 Comments

  1. Editor says:

    I was upset when I got the Vogue app, and they didn’t have these type of ads, or ads at all.Every magazine app should have them and every major retail company should produce them.

  2. Brian Keith Photography says:

    interesting stuff

  3. Nic says:

    Cool! What is the music in the video?

  4. Gideon says:

    Surprisingly empty contribution and thus disappointing. Perhaps the questions?
    A real reflection and discourse would be much appreciated and is actually needed in these times of medias rapid change.

  5. Maria says:

    What Petronio Associates is doing is innovative and even gutsy, though I must point out that those who know true beauty will seek it in the tactility of the print magazine. How many of those individuals are left?

  6. Stephen Ciuccoli says:

    We just shot the video cover and Editorial for RWH IPad Magazine. It is available at he Itunes App Store and it is free! Angela Gilltrap, Editor-In-Chief and creator of RWH iPad Magazine is also using this new medium in an ever increasing depth. This new Technology is truly an amazing creative tool. It is exciting to be a part of this new era in Fashion Photography.

  7. Mike Moss says:

    This is an interesting article and a fun read. My take on the future of fashion photography is that video and motion aren’t going to impact it as much as the rise of the amateur fashion photographer. The internet is flooded with amateur work, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average viewer to differentiate between a genuine fashion advertisement and editorial or an imitation created by an amateur. I don’t think that still photography needs to start including motion or competing with video in order to maintain the attention of viewers. Instead, I think that it has to find away to show something to the viewers that can’t be easily counterfeited by an amateur imitator with a low cost DSLR and a modelmayhem account.

  8. Michal says:

    With all the respect I have for Petronio Associate work, I don’t think you become a digital AD or designer just by replacing all your printed photographs by videos…

  9. Stefano says:

    …a thought on the technical side of things. Photography and video for the high end fashion market might be put on the same level when medium format cameras will deliver a video frame of 20Mega or higher, taken from a footage made from the very same camera.

    However, even at that point there are issues on production, as you opt for continuous light versus flash lighting, or reduce your range to just available, strong light.

    Postproduction, with skin and hair retouching, colour management and modifications of all sorts, would be possible in video only if you have Pixar backing you up, but then budget would go sky high.

    For how I see it, but I might be wrong, video – even in 3d – might bite all those areas we saw in this video, ie look books – simple ligjting scheme studio imagery, available light images. All the rest remins in the domain of photography.

    On the model side of things, there could be possibilities for the rise of a new type of model, as being natural, edgy and glamorous in a sequence perhaps is more difficult than being guided to that level just for a still.

    The technological evolution allows for a new way of mixing and delivering a message, where music, voice, text, and images, in motion or still, can all comparticipate to deliver the high end message.

    Maybe the challenge is in unrevealing the new in the way things are put toghether and the way it reaches the target, allowing for this to choose amongst different experiences without sobstituting the pleasure or holding a magazine or a book with the novelty of fingering on a screen.

  10. steven tutiven says:

    i think this such a benefit to the entertainment world and it could help consumers more :) … love it …

  11. Heather says:

    Good thoughts Stefano…

  12. jenna says:

    I don’t think video ads should replace print. I don’t think one should replace the other, I see them both as two separate ways of advertising that each have a different effect on the viewer. I do agree that models can benefit, as they have more of a chance with video to get that “it girl” factor, because motion will show more of their personalities. But I don’t think video ads could ever replace printed ads…print allows you to have something tangible. For instance in NYC, you can walk outside on or go to the park, and notice the street style at the same time as reading a magazine. Not everyone is going to want to do that with their ipad.

  13. Jo says:

    What’s the soud ??????

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