Wear that lunky eyewear, white boy

No 173: DIESEL
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The Independent Culture
Diesel is a very singular advertiser. It started selling jeanswear - an area ruled by the excessively imaginative and entrepreneurial - and managed to create a niche. Where some jeans advertisers had graduated from fashion and American associations into attitude, Diesel took it one stage further. Diesel had an aesthetic, a sensibility. Its ads looked a certain way and the joke was in the detail of the art direction and styling. They had the fads of young Tribeca and young LA off pat. Painfully hip, post-modern, Downtown and ironic, their early Nineties set-pieces of slackers caught the eye of anyone who'd ever read Douglas Coupland. It was almost incidental that they were meant to be a bit shocking too - as in the two-sailors-kissing ads. The point was that the shock was underwritten by getting the shoes right.

Now they've branched out into eyewear - or shades, the funny old hip term - and for once the product itself gets quite an airing. On the evidence of this commercial, Diesel shades would suit a Thunderbird (Diesel means sense of period).

So we have a lunk of a US Army sergeant in fatigues wearing amusing Sixties revival wrap-around shades, in a bar surrounded by girls. He's a lunk not a hunk because he's got a daft face, which lights up at the sight of the Gents sign. He pushes up his specs and lumbers across the room, almost falling over a chair.

This isn't the first TV commercial set in a Gents, but it's certainly the first to deal with the etiquette of the place. The lunk sees the world through soup-tinted specs and breaks the No Smiling rule straight away with a howdy-doodie beam. This causes the low-life occupants to concentrate in panic on their peeing. They're immaculately Times Square 1972 Ratsos, one with a brilliant tiger-print beret, the other with a really bad polyester shirt. The sergeant exits as if by a stage door, to more screaming, adoring girls. Things look different through Diesel's shades.

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