Americans try to talk about positive family values, although the actual state of things is disastrous.—Vladimir Zhirinovsky
At 81, Sophia Loren is proof positive that real beauty and elegance never fade. The actress that stunned in The Houseboat and won an Oscar® for La ciociarau in 1962 is still every bit as stunning in the new fragrance ad (please, don’t call it a short film) for Dolce & Gabbana‘s Dolce Rosa Excelsa. Whether she’s brushing on paint while wearing a white button-down shirt or gracefully descending the stairs in a black lace dress, Ms. Loren still possesses the ability to outshine every other model on the planet. Her appearance in the 90-second piece is exquisite.
The move plays right into D&G’s spring campaign that casts a number of grandmothers as the featured models, and that on the heels of a fall/winter runway show that emphasized mothers. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have figured out that appealing to a woman’s maternal instincts is a great way to sell clothes to the whole family. You can’t fault them for a unique marketing plan that is working even better for them than it did for Sears & Roebuck back in the 1960s. Yes, you read that correctly; I just compared Dolce & Gabbana to Sears. If you just had a Brady Bunch flashback, you’re welcome.
While all the family values marketing seems sweet, however, one would be naive to think that it is being promoted only to sell clothes. Not hardly. While both designers are openly gay and have, in the past, been in a relationship together, their interview in Panorama last year presented a very narrow and non-inclusive view of family. Specifically, Domenico claimed that there is a sharp division between children conceived and “born to a mother and a father” versus “children of chemistry, synthetic children. [Products of] uteri [for] rent, semen chosen from a catalog.” Never mind that a very large number of heterosexual couples have to use in-vitro fertilization to have children just the same as a gay couple might. Dolce goes on to say, “I am gay, I can’t have a child. I guess you cannot have everything in life. Sometimes it is beautiful to be deprived of something. Life has a natural course, some things cannot be changed. One is the family.”
Such views clash with what we see in the film as the well-muscled young models helping Ms. Loren revitalize an Italian villa take a moment to lose their shirts and play in the water hoses. Depending upon one’s orientation, this might be gay, or it may be a straight girls wet dream. Either way, it is a strong juxtaposition to the more right-wing, traditional family values tone D&G prefers to espouse publicly.
In the final scene of the film, Loren’s real-life son, Edoardo Ponti, presents a rose to “Rosa,” played by model Kate King, who then presents the same flower to Ms. Loren. All this seems so very lovely as though perhaps leading up to a big Italian wedding (don’t bother, ladies, Edoardo is married with two children). For 90 seconds worth of add, there are family values oozing from almost every frame. Too bad Dolce & Gabbana doesn’t see fit to make room for the entire family. Perhaps they’d prefer all those non-traditional family members shop elsewhere.
Here’s a look at the full commercial.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for family values and I think the commercial is beautiful and Ms. Loren was the perfect choice for the role. However, I prefer family values that include everyone, not just someone’s exclusionary view built upon antiquated mythology. Perhaps, eventually, D&G will find a way to include the whole family.