Unveiling the Power of Female Iconography in Luxury Advertising

In a new blog post on the CommsWomen platform, Alexa Sikola, a student at the University of Alabama, College of Communication and Information Sciences, analyses an article on consumerism, advertising and fashion by Federica Maria Marrella published in Global Fashion Conference Proceeding.

In the realm of fashion, advertising is more than a marketing tool; it’s a cultural force that shapes perceptions and values. The article “Consumerism and Female Iconography: Women in the Advertising Campaigns of the Major Italian Luxury Brands, Years 2010-2015” provides a compelling analysis of how Italian luxury brands use female iconography to influence consumer behavior. This blog post will explore the key insights from the article, highlighting their relevance to the CommsWomen advocacy initiative, which aims to empower women in the communications industry.

The article emphasizes that female iconography in advertising is not just about selling products, it’s about crafting an image that resonates with societal ideals and aspirations. Between 2010 and 2015, major Italian luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Versace, utilized female figures, not merely as models, but as symbols of sophistication, power, and elegance. This portrayal has a profound impact on how women perceive themselves and their roles in society. One of the critical points discussed is the relationship between consumerism and identity. The advertising campaigns analyzed in the article reveal that luxury brands often position their products as essential components of a desirable lifestyle. By doing so, they create a new narrative as where owning these products already is synonymous with achieving a higher social status and personal fulfillment. Mainly for women, this often translates into an aspirational identity—one where luxury and femininity are intertwined. For women in the communications industry, the insights from this article are invaluable. Understanding how luxury brands craft their narratives can inform better marketing strategies that promote gender equality.

Here are a few practical takeaways for CommsWomen: The first is Balanced Representation which has a strong component to strive for advertising campaigns that highlight women’s diverse roles and contributions, beyond their appearance. The next is the Empowering Narratives created. These craft stories that position women as leaders, innovators, and change-makers, rather than just consumers. And last but not least, Critical Engagement is brought into play. This encourages audiences to engage critically with advertising content, questioning and challenging the underlying messages.

A central debate in the article is whether the portrayal of women in these campaigns empowers or objectifies them. On one hand, the women depicted are often strong, independent, and in control, which can be seen as empowering. On the other hand, the emphasis on physical beauty and luxury can reduce women to mere objects of desire, perpetuating harmful stereotypes. This duality is crucial for the CommsWomen initiative to address, as it highlights the need for a balanced representation of women that celebrates their achievements beyond aesthetics. Fashion, as depicted in the article, is a powerful tool for advocacy. It has the potential to challenge norms and inspire change. For instance, some campaigns from the period studied incorporated elements of female empowerment, such as showcasing women in leadership roles or emphasizing intellectual attributes over physical ones. These instances demonstrate that luxury brands have the capacity to influence societal views positively.

The analysis of female iconography in Italian luxury brand advertising from 2010 to 2015 offers profound insights into the power dynamics of consumerism and gender representation. For the CommsWomen advocacy initiative, these insights are not only academically enriching but also practically applicable. By promoting balanced and empowering portrayals of women, the communications industry can play a pivotal role in advancing gender equality. As we continue to explore the intersection of fashion, consumerism, and female empowerment, it’s essential to remain critical and proactive. By doing so, we can ensure that the narratives we craft and consume contribute positively to the ongoing journey towards gender equality in the communications industry and beyond.

The full article can be read at this link.


Marrella, F. M. Consumerism and Female Iconography: Women in Advertising Campaigns of the Major Italian Luxury Brands, years 2010-2015. Global Fashion Conference 2020, ISBN: 978-989-54263-1-7. Retrieved from

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