Thursday, January 28, 2010

Haunted Heraldry

I never wrote about this at the time, but I was really impressed with Target's last Hallowe'en campaign: Haunted Heraldry.

I loved it because, in part, it brought me back to the romance and glory of my former goth days. When I was into goth I was really into it. Any time I found any home-deco items that appeared goth-appropriate, I updated my local goth message board with all the details, to give other interested parties a heads-up. I wasn't one of those goths who needed the exclusive "in" or accumulated obscure artifacts just to put myself ahead of my peers. I wanted to form a community, I wanted to grant access to all resources.

In part, this was probably why I was later branded "the wrong kind of goth." That, and my skull-face makeup.

Anyway, Target released this "Haunted Heraldry" campaign of Hallowe'en home decor. Their demographic was probably adults in their mid- to late-20s who were old enough to have some money and young enough to want to decorate for the holiday, more than black-and-orange crepe streamers and a plastic jack o'lantern. What was funny about this campaign is how elaborate it was: I learned the names of new decoration items, formal items, through this marketing. Case in point: chasers. I'd never heard of them before though I had seen them a number of times. If you asked any on-the-street jackoff what a chaser is, s/he'll probably say it's what you drink after a hard alcoholic beverage to calm your palate. It's hard to find the definition that would match the beaded placemat in the top photos, but once upon a time this was a traditional place setting.

And look at the tapestry-like weaving in the tablecloth, seen in the bottom four photos! I heightened the contrast in these shots but the actual effect was much more subtle, not at all garish. At first glance it simply looked like a black sheen with some lavish design, but as you studied it you could identify various plants and fanciful creatures. That raven looks like something from a Durer nightmare and the werewolf seems gleaned from a woodcut! It's not just that they chose frightening creatures of folklore, but they sourced these images from wonderful, integral artifacts.

What really stuck with me was the recurring theme of this campaign, the skull with a crown. Reminiscent of the Rider-Waite "Triumph of Death," this was a compelling image that appeared on everything from the banal to the elegant, from beer cozies to those elaborately beaded chasers. All I afforded myself were a couple of hand towels for the kitchen, but if I'd been living single and particularly flush with money, I would have snatched up the entire ensemble and had my friends over for a little feast. I would have bought some nice storage container to preserve this setup, too, ensure that I'd have it intact for years to come.

That is, were I still goth. Which I'm not.

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