Colorful Asian influences star in fashion ads

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Ad pages of fashion magazines this spring are looking east for inspiration.

New spring campaigns for many cosmetics and apparel companies have taken a heavy eastern flavor -- Near, Middle and Far East -- with names such as Sheer Karma and East Mystique.

Agency creatives say the look takes its cue from the very strong influence of bright, colorful spring collections that have a strong ethnic flair. After a couple of seasons of khaki cargo pants and pastel twin sets, store racks are full of clothes with a strong ethnic look, such as sari-cloth skirts with gold borders, mirrored blouses and turquoise jewelry.

ETHNIC INSPIRED

"It's extremely bright, colorful and ethnic-inspired," said Charles De Caro, partner at Laspata/DeCaro, a New York agency specializing in fashion advertising. Laspata/DeCaro's creatives looked to Morocco for the look of the spring campaign of apparel company XOXO. Print and outdoor ads, shot in Marrakesh, feature models posing against brightly colored tile backgrounds and other exotic locales. Print broke in the March Marie Claire, and more ads will run in the April issues of fashion books including Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

Liz Claiborne also tried on an exotic look in its spring apparel campaigns, from Gotham, New York. Spreads, tagged "Let the sun shine in," broke in March issues and will run in fashion and lifestyle books including Elle, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

Gotham also created ethnic-flavor ads for the spring colors of Cosmair's Maybelline makeup brand, East Mystique, which will appear in April magazines.

MUTUAL INFLUENCE

Fashion and makeup lines often take cues from one another, and their agencies interpret the trends "through their brands' eyes," said Lynn Giordano, chief creative officer of Gotham.

"For us, it is the color story. Spring colors were so strong," said Alice Ericsson, exec VP-senior creative director, beauty, at Grey Advertising, New York.

OUT OF INDIA

Grey created print, in-store and online advertising for Sheer Karma, Cover Girl's spring color line, which arrives in stores this month. Print broke in March issues of fashion magazines, and the same India-inspired visuals will appear in in-store displays and on Cover Girl's Web site.

Cover Girl's sister brand, Procter & Gamble Co.'s Max Factor, also looked east for its spring collection. In keeping with its Hollywood positioning, Max Factor launched the Electric Sunset Collection with a tie-in to the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. film "Anna & the King." Ads from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, which appear in March magazines, feature an endorsement from the movie's makeup artist, Morag Ross, who is also participating in public relations efforts for the launch.

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