Beauty & Truth

Anna Karenina PosterUsually I’m a big believer in the innate connection between beauty and what we call truth, i.e. something that resonates within our soul. Last night however that belief got a bit of a damper. I watched Anna Karenina, the new movie adaptation by Joe Wright. And, I’m afraid to say, this for me is one of the (few) cases where beauty butchers truth.

The movie is grand, daring, original, even entertaining. An “act of artistic hubris” as A.O. Scott rightfully called it in his NYT review. And quite successful as that. But: Unfortunately for me, this “self-conscious artifice” (another of Scotts very fitting descriptors) does not arrive at anything close to emotional authenticity – or even urgency. Quite the opposite. It is so over-stylized and so self-conscious that the story gets buried in its staging. And with it any potential empathy or identification the drama could have elicited. It is a true beauty. But the beautiful truth is completely lost.

Now, why am I boring you with all this on a blog about Super Premium Marketing? Because it made me once again realize, how brittle the connect between aesthetic elevation and emotional inspiration, which most prestige brands work so hard to achieve, truly is. And how it may ultimately be more rewarding to err on the side of emotional truth – even if that means forgoing kudos for originality or creativity.

Someone who manages that quite well is actually Club Monaco, another one of yesterdays pleasures. Their stores outfitted with art and artefacts from a British junk or antique club-monaco-fox-flytedealer (depending on your perspective) might not set new standards in merchandising – as Barney’s et al. so often attempt to. But they certainly dramatize the (relative) beauty of the clothes – and elevate the shopping experience to something resonant. Yes, even emotionally. And that’s a lot in these hyper-emotional pre-X=mas days. By the way: The stuff is all for sale, starting Dec 10. Isn’t that a wonderful combination of emotions, truth and commerce!?

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