the United Colors of Benetton

MOST ADVERTISING THAT FIXES itself like barnacles to the outsides of buses is of the Jordache, Bud, or Virginia Slims variety. In the wake of the ruthlessly upscale “redevelopment” of New York’s housing stock, some ads now feature bodacious young women lying belly down before high rises reduced to the scale of gigantic vibrators. But lately something new has been added to such reinforcements of the national appetite for youth, luxury, and officially sanctioned vice. Buses now contain ads that double as political messages. The photographer Oliviero Toscani has produced the most extraordinary of these profitable public-service announcements for the Treviso-based Italian knitwear concern, Benetton. Today’s flâneurs might be stopped dead in their tracks by the specter of two giant hands—one black, one white, both unmistakably male—bound together by a pair of handcuffs. “United Colors of

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