PETER YORK ON ADS: No 97: cK ONE

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The Independent Culture
ANDY WARHOL's estate is immensely rich, so it can live without a few extra royalties. But the high-concept Calvin Klein cK One ads derive very clearly from late-Sixties Andyworld, particularly as photographed by Richard Avedon, with a little dose of the current Details magazine look.

The concept here is androgyny, plus New York style and a very black-and- white photographic look. A scent "for a man or a woman" positions cK One well clear of the Elizabeth Taylor brews.

Baywatch they're not, these kids. The boys are all bare-chested, very skinny and unpumped, the girls are mostly flat-chested and short-haired. And the attitude is very New York gender-confused-what's-the-difference. And very druggy.

Like many design-house ads it has the look of being originally conceived for magazines. It's smarter and simpler than most ads; the black and white looks exaggeratedly crisp and high contrast compared with the swirly greys and tints most ad directors resort to when expressing themselves in post-colour mode. Its one trick is a series of overlapping "frames" each with a different scene.

It starts as it means to go on, introduced by a Velvet Underground-ish sound with a skinny boy in leather trousers - self-involved, completely out of it - pouring cK One down his chest.

In the next frame there's an elegant Uptown woman in black and a young couple kissing; in a third, a lot more skinny boys dancing, bouncing around in interesting cone-head hats. Other people just talk, one boy is on his knees. So what?

And then we get our Quentin Crisp - Britain's lost national treasure - in the middle of more spacey kids, saying that something is "very odd, very odd indeed".

At the end, the cutest, most conventional of the girls says cK is the only one in a flat little voice, sounding just like "Joe Bich, you're the one" from Midnight Cowboy. To introduce the pack shot the bottle is faintly tinted lime. It's very plain, just like a gin miniature.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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