A new Saint Laurent campaign featuring "painfully thin models" in "degrading" poses sparked outrage on Monday, with calls for the imagery to be banned. The Paris-based design house's campaign, which features what the AFP describes as "a reclining woman in a fur coat and fishnet tights opening her legs, and another of a model in a leotard and roller skate stilettos bending over a stool," has caused fury on social media.
The Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicity ("ARPP"), the French advertising authority, said most of the complaints it has received in connection with YSL's Fall 2017 "Idol Preview" campaign were from individuals who viewed the images as an "incitement to rape.” The ARPP's director, Stephane Martin, told the AFP that the brand appears to have "incontestably breached" the national advertising code, which bars all "degrading and humiliating representations of people," and has the authority to demand that advertisers withdraw or change their campaigns.
Martin said the latest campaign - which was created by Saint Laurent's in-house team, including its new creative director Anthony Vaccarello - may have gone too far. "We have a rather young designer known for his rather 'specific' looks," Martin said. It is possible, however, that "in this rather closed world, with its specific codes, that they did not realize" the effect the campaign would have on the general public.
"We had a similar type of porno chic (in fashion advertising) a decade ago, and here we have it coming back again which isn't acceptable," Martin noted. "I am not sure that [Saint Laurent's] female clients would like to be associated with these images." He further noted that the ARPP will decide on what action to take after meeting the label on Friday.
France's leading women's group, Osez le feminisme ("Dare to be Feminist"), called for the campaign to be pulled immediately, noting that this is not the first time Saint Laurent has crossed the line. Raphaelle Remy-Leleu, a spokesman for the group, said on Monday: "How do they think they will sell anything today (to women) with that? ... But you have to ask if that wasn't intentional, that this was all about creating a scandal so we would talk about them.
The fury comes after Britain's advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA"), was forced to investigate a Saint Laurent campaign two years ago. The ASA launched a review of then-creative director Hedi Slimane's campaign, starring models Natalie Westling and Nastya Sten, after receiving a complaint that the models depicted were too thin. According to the ASA, the models at issue in that campaign were, in fact, thin, but did "not appear to be unhealthily underweight" and as such, the campaign is not irresponsible.
According to its response to the ASA inquiry, "Yves Saint Laurent SAS indicated that they did not agree with the complainant's view that the model was unhealthily thin, but did not provide a detailed response."
UPDATED (3/11/17): Per WWD, "Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial spring advertising campaign has been removed from billboards across France under orders from the nation’s Advertising Watchdog, according to reports. The Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité, or ARPP, had asked the Kering-owned brand to cease distributing the ads, and to modify the visuals, after receiving a number of complaints."