The Prima Donna of Gabbana

Dolce Gabbana

Although Dolce and Gabbana’s fall 2013 advertisement does not exhibit overt sexism, the ad’s designers are definitely doing gender in this piece. First, a beautiful woman is the focal point. Her face is perfectly symmetrical, and her facial features are very soft, sure not to appear remotely ‘masculine.’ Her beauty clearly commands the attention of her audience as evidenced by the man in the back who looks over his peers to see her. She stands in the center of six men, dressed in red, a color associated with passion and sexuality. She seems to play the role of a stereotypical damsel in distress. Although her face appears relatively calm, the woman clutches her purse with her left hand on her chest as if something caused her to panic. Furthermore, the man on the front left has his arm extended as if to offer her some kind of assistance.  This advertisement will probably not receive any mainstream backlash. However, it should be noted that Dolce and Gabbana uses the same fragile, beautiful damsel in distress that needs a male to rescue her as the companies whose ads present a woman who cannot operate an electronic screwdriver or select a car. 



One thought on “The Prima Donna of Gabbana

  1. jkamhi

    Agreed! The damsel in distress analogy is incredibly relevant. It accurately captures the concerned expressions of the men in the picture, as well as the woman’s distressed expression. I’m reminded of Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” excerpt, which suggests that to men (and surveyors, generally), women are their appearance. They are objects to be looked at. Based on how they appear, they are treated in a certain way. This dynamic is clear in the advertisement. Because the woman appears to be a (conventionally attractive) damsel in distress, the men respond accordingly by actively trying to assist her. Yet we still don’t know this woman’s true nature, because her appearance is merely a façade.
    John Berger, excerpt from Ways of Seeing (1972). P. 37-38


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