In ads every detail is put there intentionally to do
something to the viewer.
One purpose is to DISTRACT you from something (focusing
your attention away from something and towards something else)
Another purpose is to seize your attention--and hold
onto it, perhaps for days, weeks, months--without you realizing that
someone has intended to seize it.
As you scan across and down from the left corner, does
anything appear strange to you? Really look at it now.
Look at the cut of her dress. Doesn't something seem to
be missing on one side, other than the black velvet dress material?
Or is it just that the model is mis-shapen.
One characteristic of Black Velvet ads is that the
black dress always appeared to be painted onto the model, in a way
that you could almost notice it, but barely.
It's always interesting how people react to such
things. As Madonna showed, a bra covers just as much as a bathing
suit top. But because we are trained to think of a bra as
underclothing, the problem is not how much it actually covers, but
how much it un-covers in our mind.
A woman wearing a bra instead of a bathing suit top
seems more naked even when she is just as covered--and even if she is
more covered by it.
The same psycho-logic applies to black velvet. We all
know that people are naked under their clothing but we don't
consciously think of it that way every time we see people. But when
graphic artists paint clothing on a model, the ad then says: if we
hadn't painted this clothing on, you would be seeing her naked. The
idea of sexuality becomes attached to a product that otherwise has
nothing to do with sexuality--unless you count the idea of getting
someone drunk to have sex with them. This can be a reminder of
This ad was done before there was a computer on every
desk that could do special effects. Back then it was a common
technique in advertising to start with a photographic slide of a real
That slide would be projected onto a large canvas. The
projected image was then painted onto the canvas. In the process, any
part of it could be altered--details left out. Details added in. The
manipulation of layers of attention.
The large painting was then rephotographed and severely
reduced in size. so that it could be used on a magazine or newspaper