In this month's Objet D'Rad I'll be looking at a real icon of the 80s, the Le Clic camera. The 80s had an uncanny knack of making a mundane or design-starved object become a work of incredible artistic design. Following on from the success of the Swatch watch the Le Clic camera did a similar thing with the camera. Throwing out all concepts of established camera design, Le Clic came up with something absolutely spectacular and marketed it as a fashion accessory primarily. They sold the lifestyle as the product and the 80s emodiment of marketing never rung truer. But look at those lines, such an absolutely stunning piece of design.
The launch for the Le Clic line was a most bodacious exhibition of 80s excess and can be read in full in this article from the Chicago Tribune in detail and really set the tone for what the brand was about. Adding a 'Le' to any commonplace item instantly gave it a mystique and affluence in the 80s and combined with exciting and vibrant advertising made this iconic overnight.
The energy and dynamism this camera was going to bring to your lifestyle is beautifully realised in this commercial too. The use of still images animated in this manner was another great 80s style that was often used in commercials to crystallise the frame while keeping things exciting and never static.
Le Clic Ad from Rick Shithouse on Vimeo.
All advertising hyperbole aside the camera itself simplified the process of taking photos by offering very few controls and opted for using Disc Film, which was a new format for the 80s and although technically inferior to regular film, didn't diminish its futuristic cachet. The repositioning of the shutter button to the front face certainly made for a avant garde design choice, but not so much for practicality, but that point is moot when the camera itself is so full of style
Even the packaging was highly design oriented with 80s aeshetics positively leaping off the display pegs. The jaunty angle of the camera in the blister pack and the delightfully refined geometric lines just exude style and cool. Of course the Le Clic range traded greatly on the range of colours available and (as evidenced in the advertising above) promoted carrying multiple Le Clics of different colours to again follow Swatch's campaign of wearing as many of their watches as possible.
The original Le Clic range paved the way for slimmer designed cameras that opted for traditional film and through the 90s Le Clic tried to keep their products relevant to the changing times but never recaptured the 80s magic that their first line enjoyed. Although the line launched in 1986 the pop culture references occurred later on. I'm unaware of other movies that had Le Clics in them, but please contact me if you see them in other ones.
First off is the absolutely iconic piece of late 80s cinema Miracle Mile. This is really one of my favourite 80s movies and towards its climax we're spoiled Le Click fanservice as the leads pause outside of an incredible Le Clic retail display (make sure you Le Clic the image for a better look).
Then in 1992 the always enchanting Marisa Tomei brandished a stunning pink Le Clic as Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny throughout the picture, albeit with the brand name carefully removed..
The Le Clic cameras are definitely a classic 80s example of style over substance, but in the decade where consumerism, excess and fashion all blended into eachother in the most inspiring ways sometimes the 'look' is just as; if not more important, than the function itself.