My mom tells a charming story about the time she and my dad were still dating and she made him chicken cacciatore for dinner.
Shortly thereafter, he proposed marriage — prompting her girlfriends to dub the dish "chicken catch-a-husband."
It's charming because it happened in 1966. And because, to hear my dad tell it, he'd been madly in love with my mom since 7th grade, when they first met each other's acquaintance. She could have served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and he would have been equally smitten.
Nine West's new "Husband Hunting" ad campaign may have aged similarly well had it rolled out 48 years ago. Instead, it rolled out a few days ago and landed with a tone-deaf, retrograde thud.
The shoe company is touting two new "shoe occasions" that leave you wondering whether the copywriters watched one too many "Mad Men" episodes — and failed to absorb the show's not-very-subtle messages on shifting gender roles and the dark byproducts of institutionalized misogyny.
The "Husband Hunting" collection announces, "Whether you're looking for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now … we got a shoe for that." The second collection, called "First Day of Kindergarten," is equally reductive. "The bus arrives and so do the waterworks. Then it hits you: Mommy now has the weeks off. Wipe those happy-sad tears … we got a shoe for that."
And just like that, the company successfully compartmentalizes its female consumers into two tiny (shoe)boxes: single gal on the prowl, aiming (with literal bow and arrow — take a look at the photos) to land a man; and landed-a-man housewife who has nothing but time now that the children are no longer tugging at her apron strings.
Not surprisingly, some of the best commentary on the ill-advised campaign is taking place on Twitter, where posts range from outraged to bemused.
From Caitlin Constantine (@caitlinconstan): "When I go husband hunting, I prefer hunting boots so I can protect my feet while stalking my quarry across the veldt."
From Andrea Lavinthal (@andilavs): "On Nine West's site and I can't find 'I Won't Sign Your Prenup' pumps anywhere."
And from Nina Bargiel (@slackmistress): "@NineWest Do husband-hunting shoes cost 77 percent of a regular pair?"