The Best and Worst of the Fall 2015 Ad Campaigns, Part 1

We bring you the good, the bad, and the meh of the season.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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We bring you the good, the bad, and the meh of the season.
An image from the Dolce & Gabbana fall 2015 campaign. Photo: Domenico Dolce/Dolce & Gabbana

An image from the Dolce & Gabbana fall 2015 campaign. Photo: Domenico Dolce/Dolce & Gabbana

The all-important September issues are hitting newsstands, introducing a slew of new campaigns from fashion's biggest brands.

Like the collections they advertise, campaigns are not immune to trends — and this season is no exception. For fall, brands have largely eschewed editorial-like storylines in favor of images that focus on the clothing. There are also more street style-like shots (Gucci and Miu Miu, for example) that give the pieces real-life context. And once again, there are a healthy number of family-focused campaigns, which put your typical mantle portraits to shame. Where brands seem most divided is the casting: There's an almost equal presence of social media-savvy "It" girls and relatively unknown new faces.

As is customary here at Fashionista, we compiled our votes and commentary on the most buzzy campaigns of the season, translating them into a letter-grading system that helped us to rank the fall 2015 ads. Trust us, there's no "A for effort" here, friends. Read on for part one of our report card, and tune in next week for the conclusion.

Alexander McQueen: B

Photo: David Sims

Photo: David Sims

We appreciate the haunting, romantic mood and the casting of new faces Julia van Os, Ruth Bell and Jamilla Hoogenboom, but we wish there was a bigger focus on the clothing, which was especially beautiful this season.

Alexander Wang: A

Photo: Steven Klein

Photo: Steven Klein

The Wang gang looks as cool as ever in the brand's fall campaign, especially with new girls like Molly Bair and Isabella Emmack thrown into the mix. These images get across the punk-meets-goth feeling of the season perfectly, and although the fashion is all black, the platform creepers and studded details help to make it stand out. (Side note: We have a hunch these shoes are going to be everywhere come September.)

Balenciaga: B

Photo: Steven Klein

Photo: Steven Klein

It's a basic fact that casting Lara Stone and Kate Moss together is never a bad idea. However, the high glamour, killer ear jewelry and superstar models didn't keep this season's Balenciaga campaign from feeling a bit stiff — contrived, even. The clothing looks great, though, and really commands your attention.

Balmain: A-

Photo: Mario Sorrenti

Photo: Mario Sorrenti

Say what you will about the familial stunt casting, but this campaign could not be more on-brand for the social media-obsessed Olivier Rousteing. The ladies — all proud members of his "Balmain Army" — wear the glamorous clothes well, and although the Jenners and Hadids are bonafide celebrities, it doesn't seem forced. Plus, who knew Joan Smalls had a hot sister?!

Burberry: B-

Photo: Mario Testino

Photo: Mario Testino

It's great to see Burberry go in a new direction with its campaign — and to feature a new generation of "It" Brits, like Holliday Grainger, Ella Richards and Clara Paget — but despite the label's departure from its recent aesthetic and supermodel-heavy casting, the images don't really excite us.

Calvin Klein Jeans: C

Photo: Mario Sorrenti

Photo: Mario Sorrenti

We understand that CK Jeans is really making a play for the youths, and like Justin Bieber's campaign before this, we will not deny that it's both engaging and great for getting people talking. However, the whole Tinder/group sex theme is a little awkward and has a "trying too hard" feeling about it. As Chantal so succinctly put it: swipe left.

Céline: A

Photo: Juergen Teller

Photo: Juergen Teller

Phoebe Philo did not stray from her usual formula this season: Juergen Teller plus incredible clothing plus a troupe of models, with the occasional Joan Didion thrown in. (Casual.) But the casting of all new faces for fall made the concept feel fresh, and we're betting her crew of up-and-comers will have lots of eyes on them come Fashion Month.

Chanel: B

Photo: Karl Lagerfeld

Photo: Karl Lagerfeld

Chanel's fall campaign is all about the clothes, with Anna Ewers and Lindsey Wixson posing elegantly to show off their layered knits and tweed, styled by Carine Roitfeld. These images aren't the most exciting of the season, but we enjoy the classic, mannequin-like poses and the retro vibes that come across throughout. Plus, we're left wanting to wrap ourselves up in the cozy pieces on display.

Chloé: C

Photo: Inez & Vinoodh

Photo: Inez & Vinoodh

We love Anja Rubik and Julia Stegner and their sweet friendship. We love the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris. But Chloé campaigns have become so formulaic that it's difficult for us to get excited about them anymore, no matter how pretty they are. Perhaps it's time for a new concept?

Dior: B

Photo: Willy Vanderperre

Photo: Willy Vanderperre

The Fashionista team agrees that the casting of Julia Nobis and Natalie Westling together should automatically move the Dior campaign into "above average" territory, and the fact that it was shot near the birthplace of Christian Dior himself (on the cliffs of Granville, Normandy) adds a special element of historical significance. However, the models look terribly bored and aside from a few shots, the clothing isn't as flattering as it should be.

Dolce and Gabbana: C

Photo: Domenico Dolce

Photo: Domenico Dolce

Dolce and Gabbana love an ensemble campaign, and this season is no different. Their mother appreciation-themed fall collection is reprised in this family-focused shoot, and while the sentiment is sweet (and the style classically D&G), there's a lot going on here. It's difficult to see any single item of clothing in its entirety; in general, it does not look coherent and, truth be told, some shots are so crowded that they look sloppy. Also, the fact that the designers made some off-color remarks about what defines a "traditional family" earlier this year doesn't help their case.

Equipment: A-

Photo: Daria Werbowy

Photo: Daria Werbowy

Daria Werbowy has starred in and photographed the Equipment campaigns for a few seasons running. While seeing the same concept over and over usually bores us to death, it's impossible not to appreciate the interesting composition and natural beauty in these black-and-white images. Plus, this feels totally genuine the supermodel's aesthetic and personality.

Fendi: B+

Photo: Karl Lagerfeld

Photo: Karl Lagerfeld

OK, so Kendall Jenner could not look more bored than she does in these images for Fendi, but we're loving the giant puppets she poses with and there's no denying that both the clothing and accessories of the season look really good. C'mon, Miss Jenner, would it kill you to pose/give off a little energy once in a while?

Givenchy: A-

Photo: Mert & Marcus

Photo: Mert & Marcus

Arguably this season's biggest campaign coup was Riccardo Tisci's casting of Donatella Versace as part of his "Givenchy Family"-themed fall ads. While Lauren pointed out that it did add an element of confusion on first glance — even with the brand name splashed across the middle, it could easily be taken for a Versace campaign — but all in all, this will go down as a major fashion moment. The ensemble model shots are particularly memorable, featuring the likes of Candice Swanepoel, Frankie Rayder, Mariacarla Boscono and Jamie Bochert standing in a Victorian mansion, its walls covered with magnificent art and flower petals blanketing the floor. Also, the face jewelry from the runway is in full effect, which is awesome.

Gucci: A+

Photo: Glen Luchford 

Photo: Glen Luchford 

In the words of Eliza, this campaign receives an "A for Alessandro." We are all on board with the new vision Gucci's new creative director has introduced, and the brand's fall campaign is at once romantic, cinematic and mysterious. The eclectic clothing and accessories are well-styled and on prominent display, and we appreciate that the models — most of which are new faces — are depicted in real-life (and often unglamorous) situations, like riding the city bus, waiting for a subway or digging through a handbag while crossing a crowded street. The undone hair and simple makeup add to the realism of the photos, making us believe that we, too, could be Gucci girls. Well done, Mr. Michele.

Juicy Couture: D

Photo: Mert and Marcus

Photo: Mert and Marcus

Juicy Couture hired two of the buzziest models in the game — newly minted Victoria's Secret Angels Taylor Hill and Romee Strijd — as well as world-famous stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele for its fall campaign. While on paper that sounds like a winning combination, the images feel forced and dated. I'm not sure anyone wants to dress like this anymore, except for maybe Paris Hilton?