It is filled with ads showing the male models we are all familiar with: sullen, pouty-lipped emaciated, effeminate twenty-something drug addicts glaring out at us. Sometimes they are paired with an equally emaciated girl to suggest they are not as flamingly gay as they look. Both are glaring at us in palpable disgust as if we are interrupting their deep discussion of Sartre with our Sears-Roebuck clothes and 50s-style boom box on our shoulder. Or, their look, still directly at us, is one of extreme boredom, like we were their mothers nagging them to make their beds.
The guys are all dressed in tightly-tailored designer suits (we cannot see the rows of hidden clothes pins used for the photo shoot), but are almost always sockless. Going without socks has been the hallmark of high fashion for as long as I can remember. Why is this? Why are socks so gauche while smelly shoes are not? Only once I went sockless just to get the morning paper from my driveway in the manner of Tony Soprano, but it was so uncomfortable I never did it again.
Hidden between the ads are society photos of couples I have never heard of at the opera or an art museum fundraiser. These would be the real-world counterparts to the ads, but the men look totally different. They are smiling at us, glad to see us, proud to be seen. They are dressed in tuxedos, their wives beside them in gowns (although many now are openly gay couples). They are having fun. Many of the men have manly, stubbly beards. All are a little older and pudgier than those in the ads, but they clearly earned their status. I cannot imagine any are sockless.
These ads are expensive and have been around for years, so they must work. The real-world people in their tuxedos and gowns must identify somehow with the emaciated, sullen, sockless models. But why?