Stefan Holm / Courtesy of Petro Wodkins
The fake ad for Armani diapers
Gucci, Burberry and Versace are just some of the high-fashion design houses catering to tots with posh parents, so few people were surprised when, earlier this month, a Russian website began advertising Armani diapers under the tagline: "When only the best is good enough."
While some observers, like the German national daily "Die Welt," fell for the artful spoof, others questioned its authenticity, even as the website seamlessly mimicked the original. A dead giveaway? The link to the actual product page doesn't work.
The man behind the spoof told NBC News exclusively Tuesday that he did it as a statement on unbridled consumption in the formerly Communist nation.
"Nobody is surprised that Armani can sell $30 diapers in Moscow. That's Russia's image right now and it needs to change," said Petro Wodkins, a disruptive Russian artist and heretofore anonymous creator of the prank website.
"For myself, it's part of a bigger project about consumerism. It's not about Armani. It's about people and the fashion industry," he told NBC News from Moscow.
Last week, Armani issued a statement distancing itself from the diaper dupe: “Following reports of the business activities of the e-commerce website Armanirussia.ru the Armani Group wishes to emphasize its non-involvement in the initiative. The item for sale, especially in the baby section, are counterfeit, as are the photographs advertising them.”
"Legal action for the immediate closure of the website and the re-appropriation of the domain by the Armani Group has been promptly initiated,” the statement added.
Until Tuesday, however, no one knew Wodkins -- known for stunts like installing a gold statue depicting him urinating in front of the Brussels landmark, Mannekin Pis, a 17th century statue of a urinating boy --was behind the project.
"It's always interesting when you confuse people and see how do they react," Wodkins told NBC News.
The artist, who said Russian media depicts him as a "hooligan," said he is not trying to sell his art. He said he supports himself thanks to a previous career as "a sort of businessman," and added that his goal is to make people see value beyond money and expensive things.
"I hope Armani has a sense of humor," Wodkins said when pondering the legal consequences of his latest project.
First published July 23 2013, 2:48 PM