1986 Lady Mag Ads: Turquoise Eyeshadow & The St. Tropez Tan


Yesterday, we looked at editorial pages from the May 1986 issue of Elle magazine and compared them to the May 2010 issue. Today: Big hair, tan skin, turquoise eyeshadow and lots of lady-cigarettes: Let’s compare advertising pages, then and now.

This Ann Taylor ad is fairly typical for the 1986 issue of Elle: No bells and whistles, just a happy lady wearing clothes.

By comparison, this Dior ad from the 2010 issue seems over-the-top and needlessly dramatic.

Most of the skin-care ads in the 1986 issue had to do with tanning. A “pre-tan accelerator” helps you get darker faster when roasting in the sun!

In 2010, most of the skin-care products are about youth, rejuvenation and anti-aging. That’s what we get for frying ourselves in the ’80s: Wrinkles. As you see, the pale and luminous and decidedly NOT tan Eva Longoria has “ideal skin.”

1986: A very straightforward Louis Vuitton ad, emphasizing quality and craftsmanship.

2010: A Louis Vuitton ad selling fantasy, dreams, fairy tales.

This 1986 Swatch ad is highly personal to me because I had a shirt from the “Nefertiti Collection.” The print was a comic strip, and the comic featured a cartoon Cleopatra, time traveling with her Swatch. I thought it was the coolest thing in the entire world, and wore it with a side ponytail and multiple Swatches. Sigh. The pre-teen years!

That’s my shirt! On her head!

Where many of the 1986 models are having fun, most of the models in the 2010 fashion ads are suffering from a severe case of sexyface. Case in point: This Bebe ad, in which she is trying so hard that it hurts.

It’s interesting to see which brands haven’t changed the way they advertise very much: This 1986 Clinique ad is minimalist and simple. Just the product.

In 2010, Clinique is still keeping ads clean and direct.

What says 1986 better than bright eyeshadow?

This 2010 eyeshadow ad is very subdued in comparison.

Did anyone use Pazazz in 1986? I did. It stained my hands. And my shirt.

Using a black model alongside white models in haircare ads — as if to say — you can try it, too! — is something companies still do, in 2010.

While you may think of the “look” of 1986 as zany and brightly colored, many ads had a soft, fuzzy glow. A gauzy innocence, like a soap-opera dream sequence.

This 2010 bra ad tries to be dreamy, but someone forgot to put Vaseline on the camera lens.

When you can’t smell a fragrance in a magazine, you have to use the clues you’re given: In 1986, White Linen wanted you to think it was as clean and fresh as a plantation owner’s daughter!

2010: Beyoncé’s fragrance smells like sexy global warming.

In 1986, Calvin Klein was about two things: Youth and sex.

In 2010, not much has changed.

The haughty rich bitch of the 1986 Ban De Soleil ads is iconic! Don’t you love how every part of you — eyes, lips, face, body — MUST be the same color, and that color is bronze?

1986: Remember the old Gap logo?

The 1986 issue has quite a few cigarette ads in it, including a Marlboro Lights ad featuring a man on a horse. But Virginia Slims aggressively courted the female market. The ads used cartoonish old-fashioned ladies “shocked” by the new, younger generation; the slogan “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby,” made smoking seem like the modern, liberated choice.

Also, you could buy Virginia Slims-branded clothes, workout outfits and pool floats.

Another 1986 cigarette ad: Ritz, a “celebration of style and taste.” Double entendres, because clearly this wealthy, worldly woman is in possession of a high style and taste level. And then the YSL cigarette is stylish and tastes great.

Believe it or not, the 2010 issue of Elle also has cigarette ads. The American Spirit slogan is similar to the old Ritz line; here it’s “a style for every taste.”

What’s notable about this 1986 Ralph Lauren ad is that it could be from almost any era. The brand aims to be classic and timeless, and this moment of WASPy tenderness proves that shilling products with the allure of a beautiful, monied life is a tactic that endures.

Earlier: Flashbacks: The Joy Of 1986 Elle

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