Dirty Pictures: 10 Controversial Fashion Ads

Marv D'Souza , 03 May 2012
Marv D'Souza
Marv D’Souza

Constantly changing trends and evolving styles, the fashion industry is always defining what is considered risqué. Sometimes whilst marketing and promoting, ads and editorials have crossed the line and raised more than an eyebrow. Here’s a look at 10 fashion images that are too racy, too shocking and maybe a little too politically incorrect.

1) Blasphemous.

Marithé Francois Girbaud
Marithé Francois Girbaud

Religion is one of the most fragile topics that almost everyone is sensitive about. From the atheist to the religious, they all have a strong opinion and are serious about it. Thus, using religion to depict fashion will start a debate. French clothing company, Marithé Francois Girbaud got into trouble when they chose the Last Supper as a theme for their summer line campaign. And to make matters a little stickier, they used The Da Vinci Code twist in it.

2) Violent.

Benetton
Benetton

Fashion often chooses visuals that involve blood, gore and guns. It’s the appeal of the boisterous that makes bad look so good. United Colors Of Benetton is a brand known to get into a lot of trouble with their political ads. They raised the bar a little higher when they featured a bloody T-shirt and camouflage pants in their UNHATE campaign. In a time where terrorism and war plays on the centre stage, this picture sure caused quite the stir.

3) Sexuality Explicit.

Tom Ford
Tom Ford

Sex sells and we all buy it. It’s one of the most used tools in ad campaigns, but can the sex get too sexy – towards borderline pornographic?  Tom Ford is a name synonymous with racy and sexually explicit photo shoots as his SS08 menswear campaign served as evidence.

4) Morally Questionable.

Sasha Pivorocova and Iselin Steiro
Sasha Pivorocova and Iselin Steiro

Fashion can cross the line on moral grounds when it tries to turn something serious into something ‘eye-catchy’. I stumbled upon this fashion editorial in Italian Vogue with supermodels, Sasha Pivorocova and Iselin Steiro, posing as patients in an asylum being dragged around an institute. The picture is well shot and styled but it still seems wrong.

5) Socially Unethical.

Vogue India
Vogue India

Somehow in the pretext of being artistic, Vogue India carried out an editorial featuring humble working class women, men and children adorning fashion’s biggest names. An editorial that sparked a debate all over the world, as the ‘models’ seemed to be exploited. They came across as mere props to display products that not only were unattainable to them but also worth several times their subsistance earnings.

6) Child Abusive.

Jours Après Lunes
Jours Après Lunes

Though there are strict rules to protect children’s rights in showbiz, sometimes borders are temporarily suspended in the name of art. A French lingerie company Jours Après Lunes ran a campaign for their children’s lingerie. When questioned against the nature of the pictures, the company replied, “How else would we show lingerie?” Well, is there a need of ‘kids’ lingerie’? I guess create a need to create a market.

7) Substance Abusive.

Sisley
Sisley

A known stereotype holds that fashion models are starving, bitchy and drug addicted. It’s these factors that make the girls look bad and we all know how that is accepted worldwide. Sisley decided to run an image in one of their campaigns of models sniffing a white dress and looking wired. P.S.: there is also some white power and a credit card in the frame

8) Unhealthy.

top shop
top shop

Though it’s an official rule that size zero models are unacceptable at jobs, a lot of fashion models are still skinnier than normal and projected as women that embody a brand. Kate Moss’s infamous statement, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” caused a uproar amongst protestors. Soon, high street fashion brand, Topshop got into trouble when they released pictures of model Codie Young appearing anorexic on their online site. Though they argued that their model was indeed healthy, the image was eventually replaced.

9) Politically Twisted.

Benetton
Benetton

After religion, politics is the next big red meat the public loves to chew on. People are particular about who they pray to and who they pay attention to. Anything said or done in this realm may face instant drama. And that’s exactly what United Colors of Benetton had to face with their UNHATE campaign.

10) Plain Shocking.

Shocking
Shocking

After all the imagery that showcases sex, violence and unethical stands comes an image for an after-life cosmetic cream. This image is not incorrect like any of the above mentioned but it is just plain disturbing.

How much is too much? Fashion continues to tease, shock, entertain and sometimes plain disgust us in more than one way. There will be the usual art v/s fart debate that will arise every time there is a strong image out there. What is important is that we need to be sound, sensible and civil about what we choose to buy, rent or even  ignore. After all it’s all a demand and supply game.

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