"Mandarin and fuschia are in for decoration this year, sir," says the servant (Dirk Bogarde) to his new master (James Fox) as he looks around the smart Chelsea house in Joseph Losey's The Servant (1963). Mandarin- and-fuschia was back in for clothes a couple of seasons ago, preferably in wild silk. And now it's the theme of new ads for YSL's Opium in its male and female versions.
It's mandarin-and-fuschia dreamtime, with incantatory voice-over in the style of French art-films: lots of drifting in clouds of colour, chic drugginess and implied androgynous supermodel sex. It looks lovely.
The female version starts with an eye, gorgeously made up, and moves on to a beautiful girl in a mandarin- coloured Flaming June kind of dress, floating in a slow clockwise manner on a cloud of fuschia crepe. She dissolves from time to time to the equally beautiful and well-made-up Rupert Everett, in a narcissistic, twin-like role. This in turn leads to the woman's pack, which is got up like an evening bag with cord and tassels.
If they'd remade The Servant in the Eighties, Rupert Everett would've been natural casting for the James Fox role. Instead he's become an advert star, a Face (like mini-series, ads can be very sustaining). Here he's been cast as a sort of male odalisque. Very pale, powdered and apparently completely depilated, he too floats, but in a much more posed, vulnerable and uncovered way than the girl. He wears a short mauve dressing-gown, black underwear with white trim, and runs his hand over his white, hairless chest quite a lot in a languorous way. Rupert's clearly not afraid to get in touch with the female side of his nature (from now on this'll be required of the male Opium buyer).
"Look, don't move, drifting, watch- ing us, I'm a man, you're a woman, it's our secret, you're wearing it."
Both these ads use colour brilliantly, they've got a Name, a style and a suggestion. It's beyond parody - and absolutely fabulous.
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