In response to the adverts, calls were made to department stores enquiring about Alion products. In reality, of course, Alion, and their cosmetics, are a hoax. They were dreamt up by a group of fashion- industry professionals for a bit of fun. For them, it is just art masquerading as advertising. Hungry consumers, however, may view them as yet another opportunity to buy a "new" and "innovative" product to enhance their lives.
Pretend adverts are not a new phenomenon. In 1968, French painter Daniel Buren used hoardings in the Paris Metro; in the Eighties, Barbara Kruger, a former designer at US Elle magazine, peddled her ironic views about consumerism on New York billboards. This year, the trend has resurfaced, thanks in part to art students who have been pasting up reworked versions of current adverts in tube stations, and to Damien Hirst, who thinks advertising has more integrity than art.
The group behind the Alion "adverts" are different. They are not artists in the strictest sense, but use their creativity to sell fashion.
Donna Trope, the confrontational fashion photographer, uses sexual fetishism as the theme for her particular twist on the genre. Her work has caused raised voices in the past, but more recently, Trope has shot Silk Cut advertising and worked for Australian Vogue, precisely because of her uninhibited style.
Trope was chosen for the project by Roberto Henrichson, a creative director for, among others, Italian knitwear label Missoni. Henrichson had been thinking about new ways to sell beauty products, and in the process invented a few of his own.
He also set up a company called United Aliens which, as its name implies, is a group of people who "don't fit in"; but is also an art collective. His original aim for the company, which numbers ex-model Veruschka in its ranks, was to create art to exhibit in a gallery, but encouraged by Dazed & Confused, he, together with his team, dreamt up Alion.
Henrichson was initially inspired by his friend Jodie Kidd, because he thinks she looks like an alien. But his concerns are rooted in a genuine feeling that there are too many useless products on the market.
"In fashion we are always producing things we don't need," he says. So, anti-virus perfume, if it really existed, would smell good, but would also repel the flu virus, for example. "It would act like a screen," says Henrichson.
Mood-responsive polish would be reflective of a person's mood, just like mood rings in the Seventies which reacted to body heat.
There are more to come. Instant Aura Crystals, and a Mind De-progamming chip are next. So don't be fooled, unless you are a mad scientist, and are currently working on just the sort of thing United Aliens have invented. They are waiting to hear from you.Reuse content