As evidenced by everything from his deconstructed takes on Oxford shirts to his mismatched geometric heels, Simon Porte Jacquemus plays by his own rules. This time, however, the Parisian designer is extending that rebellious spirit to his advertising as well. For Fall 2017, Jacquemus’ print ad is bolder than ever: it features two naked lovers embraced in a kiss beneath a umbrella aside the sea with none of the designer’s characteristically quirky clothes or accessories.
Instead, Jacquemus is putting love front a center, a message that is especially timely given today’s political climate. The designer is calling the ad a “timeless image of two people kissing,” per WWD. Captured by photographer David Luraschi, the ad is set on the French Mediterranean in the Camargue. While there are none of the Pablo Picasso and surrealist-inspired hats that dotted the runway for Fall 2017 or the voluminous suiting they were paired with, the ad is a continuation of the collection’s theme. “It was about this Parisian girl who wears couture who falls in love with a gypsy in the south of France,” the designer told Vogue. She tries to be like a gypsy, but she cannot—she is too couture!”
The fall 2017 ad also happens to follow an ever-growing lineage of NSFW fashion ads, that, more recently, included one by Eckhaus Latta which depicted models having real, pixel-censored sex in front of the camera. “We were thinking of how we were using sexuality, the relationship between fashion advertising and sexuality—and in very direct terms saying sex sells,” photographer photographer Heji Shin told W of the Spring 2017 campaign. “That led to a “sex-positive, body-positive, sexuality-positive.” Of course, Shin and Jacquemus aren’t the first to do so; Back in 1971, Yves Saint Laurent himself posed nude for the first campaign behind his Pour Homme label, similarly without featuring any items from the line. Outside of other campaign trailblazers like YSL and, later, Calvin Klein, naked ads have also appeared at the hands of American Apparel, Alexander Wang, and, possibly most famously, Tom Ford’s 2007 Terry Richardson-helmed men’s fragrance ad. Jacquemus’ use of naked imagery though is notably less agressively sexual than it is subtle and romantic. As the designer wrote on Instagram, “NO CLOTHES, NO SHOES, JUST LOVE.”
A Brief History of Fashion’s Most NSFW, Controversial Ad Campaigns
For their first large-scale campaign, the designers behind Eckhaus Latta enlisted a diverse group of 30-something couples to not only wear their spring 2017 collection, but have real sex in front of the camera for the photographer Heji Shin, who had produced a similar series of images for a German sex education book for teenagers.
In 1971, a nude (and largely hairless) Yves Saint Laurent posed nude for Jeanloup Sieff to debut his first-ever perfume for his namesake label, Pour Homme.
Other than her controversially “heroin chic” ads for Calvin Klein, a topless, 17-year-old Kate Moss also starred in this 1992 campaign for the brand with Mark Wahlberg—one that made her so uncomfortable, she later said it prompted a nervous breakdown.
Rumor has it that Wonderbra’s billboards of Eva Herzigova caused traffic build-ups and car crashes when they went up in 1994.
It didn’t take long for controversy to erupt after Steven Meisel and Calvin Klein cast a crew of apparently underage models, including Kate Moss, for a 1995 Calvin Klein campaign; eventually, CK responded to the outcry over the ad with another ad, a full page in the New York Times announcing it was pulling the original advertisement.
This infamous 2000 campaign from Yves Saint Laurent, featuring a nude Sophie Dahl, drew 948 complaints to the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority, making it the eighth most complained about advertisement in recorded history.
Yves Saint Laurent again pared things down for one of his perfume ads in 2002, this time swapping out the designer’s likeness for a chiseled model to go full frontal.
Tom Ford and Carine Roitfeld both solidified their reputations as provocateurs when the designer and stylist drove down the fact that they were working for Gucci by shaving a “G” into a model’s pubic hair for this 2003 campaign shot by Mario Testino.
American Apparel, whose founder Dov Charney has faced a litany of sexual harassment lawsuits, began its run of controversial ads depicting highly sexualized and barely clothed women—an approach that was highly successful in creating conversation, but hardly saved the brand from bankruptcy—with this 2006 campaign.
The concept of “sex sells” barely gets more explicit than in Terry Richardson’s 2007 campaign for Tom Ford’s men’s fragrance, an ad that was banned in Italy.
“Stupid is as stupid done” is how some critics responded to Diesel’s 2010 “Be Stupid” campaign, which featured images of models flashing security cameras, among other suggestive poses. Some felt the images were needlessly sensationalistic while others described them as youthful and rebellious.
Dakota Fanning’s 2011 campaign for Marc Jacobs’ Lola campaign was banned in England after the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority deemed it too “sexually provocative” for the then 17-year-old actress, who was photographed by Juergen Teller.
Thanks to a little Photoshop, Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez were just several of the world leaders found making out in a 2011 campaign by United Colors of Benneton, which has a long history of provoking with their ads.
The model Anna Ewers has long been one of Alexander Wang’s muses, but the pair ended up in hot water with this 2014 campaign, in which Ewers is only just barely wearing Wang’s clothes.
This 2007 campaign by Dolce & Gabbana’s came to be known as the “gang rape advert” not only then, when several magazines refused to run it, but when it resurfaced online in 2015.
The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Agency also banned this 2015 Miu Miu campaign, shot by Steven Meisel, for being “irresponsible” in sexualizing an apparently underage (but actually 22-year-old) Mia Goth.
Calvin Klein courted controversy again last year with a campaign that featured a model photographed from under her dress, but the acclaimed British female photographer Harley Weir, whose work has long been interested in youth culture and sexuality, defended the campaign.
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