In early 2016, Kylie Jenner signed on as the newest Puma brand ambassador. She’s since appeared in several Puma campaigns—most recently, and notably, an April campaign in which Jenner is depicted in head-to-toe Puma, leaping into the air in an artful, if not particularly practical, pose. Some viewers were not impressed, criticizing the brand for featuring a non-professional athlete as the face of a fitness apparel line—her feet weren’t flexed properly, her knees at the wrong angle. (For the record, Puma does also contract professional athletes, and other athletic brands do also contract celebrities.)
But Kylie is not to be deterred: On Thursday, Puma announced a new campaign featuring the youngest and most entrepreneurial Kardashian alongside a cast of New York City Ballet dancers, fronting the brand’s Velvet Rope collection. The Fall 2017 campaign follows Spring 2017’s “Swan Pack” collection, another collaboration with New York City Ballet stars, which depicted the dancers cavorting about the stage in crisp white Puma sneakers. In the new campaign images, Kylie is shown, perfectly bronzer’ed and wearing a leotard and leggings, clinging to a rope like one might find in a high school gymnasium; in a separate series, dancers Unity Phelan, Olivia Boisson, Mimi Staker, Emilie Gerrity, and Meagan Mann pose in suspended animation, limbs flexed in positions no mortal should attempt. They, too, are all wearing Puma, ranging from gym-ready leotards and leggings to athleisurely sweatshirts.
For as divisive a figure as Kylie Jenner, the new campaign might hew a bit close to the Vogue Spain editorial in which her sister Kendall participated last year. Kendall earned substantial criticism for ostensibly taking the place of a real dancer in the shoot, for which she wore pointe shoes and dancerly shrug sweaters, leotards, and legwarmers. But Kylie simply appears in the same campaign as the dancers, rather than attempting their physics-defying feats for herself. No, Kylie will stick to the climbing rope, thanks.
“Puma invites women to slay doubts and live fierce,” the tagline reads in a press release that accompanied the announcement. (Way to borrow that from Beyoncé, Puma.) “We have only one question: Do you have what it takes to #DoYou?” Kylie Jenner acts as the real-girl foil to the aspirational standard set by New York City Ballet’s rising stars—and, in casting both a celebrity and a series of athletes in the campaign, Puma might avoid a backlash to rival Kylie’s earlier campaign.
Earlier this week, Kylie also appeared in the new campaign for Beats by Dre’s collaboration with Balmain, continuing her ongoing relationship with Olivier Rousteing. After becoming embroiled in her brother Rob Kardashian’s dispute with Blac Chyna—and after signing her brother on to collaborate on a lip kit-inspired sock line—Kylie seems to be moving forward as the face of just about everything.
Brit Marling has a lot of feelings about She-Ra: