The Art of Selling a Fantasy

In a new blog post on the CommsWomen platform, Chloe Wade, a student at the University of Alabama, College of Communication and Information Sciences, analyses an article on luxury fashion advertisements by Paula von Wachenfeldt published in Studies in Communication Sciences.  

In the world of luxury fashion, communication is key. Paula von Wachenfeldt’s study, “Communicating Seduction: Luxury Fashion Advertisements in Video Campaigns,” looks at how French luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Cartier, and Hermès use video ads to tell stories. These brands use themes like adventure, seduction, love, and play to grab your attention and make their products seem magical and desirable.

The Power of Themes

Von Wachenfeldt’s research points out four main themes in these luxury fashion videos: adventure, seduction, love, and play. Each theme tells a story that makes the products more than just items to buy.

Adventure: Adventure is about inviting viewers to go on an exciting journey. Louis Vuitton, for example, often shows its products as must-haves for modern explorers. Their videos use great visuals and storytelling to make their handbags and luggage seem like symbols of freedom and adventure.

Seduction: Seduction is very important in luxury fashion. Brands like Dior and Chanel use this theme well. Their ads are full of mystery and allure, drawing viewers into a world where elegance and desire mix. This makes the products very appealing.

Love: Love is a theme that everyone can relate to. Cartier, known for its beautiful jewelry, often uses love as a central idea. Their ads show romantic moments and timeless love stories, making their products seem like symbols of eternal love.

Play: The theme of play adds fun and joy to luxury fashion ads. Hermès is great at this, creating ads that celebrate life and nature. Unlike other brands, Hermès focuses more on the sensory experiences their products provide rather than the products themselves.

Myth and Meaning

One key insight from von Wachenfeldt’s study is the role of myth in luxury fashion ads. Myths give luxury products a sense of sensation and pleasure that goes beyond their physical form. These myths are created through visuals and stories that connect with cultural and social narratives.

For example, Chanel’s ads often evoke the myth of Parisian elegance. They show models against famous Parisian landmarks, creating an image of timeless French sophistication. This reinforces Chanel’s identity as a symbol of luxury and style.

Hermès, on the other hand, creates a myth around the harmony between human senses and nature. Their ads show peaceful landscapes and moments of quiet beauty, suggesting that true luxury is about experiencing tranquillity and beauty. This sets Hermès apart from other brands, highlighting their unique approach.

The Logic of Seduction

Von Wachenfeldt’s study concludes that luxury fashion ads don’t need to be logically coherent. Instead, they rely on positive signs to seduce the viewer. These ads use rich visual language, including symbols, colors, and compositions that evoke emotions and desires.

The luxury product itself becomes a powerful communication tool, guiding the viewer through stories of discovery, love, magic, and play. These objects, embedded in familiar social narratives, gain a seductive meaning that supports the lasting myth of luxury. The ads create a dreamlike world where logic is less important than sensory and emotional experiences.


In luxury fashion, video ads are more than just promotional tools—they are works of art that communicate seduction and desire. Paula von Wachenfeldt’s study explores the themes and myths in these ads, showing how they captivate audiences and elevate luxury products to a mythical level. Through themes like adventure, seduction, love, and play, luxury brands create a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the dream of luxury is always alive.

The full article can be read using this link.

Paula Von Wachenfeldt, P. (2018). Communicating Seduction: Luxury Fashion Advertisements in Video Campaigns. Studies in Communication Sciences, 18(2), DOI

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