• Ardika Pradnya

THE ART OF PISSING PEOPLE OFF

Updated: May 6


You read that right. Fashion and controversy is like burger and french fries, they tend to be associated to one another and at many occasions, it works.

The house of Saint Laurent was under fire recently for their provocative ad. It is to a degree that a group of pro-feminist activists protested outside its store. They call the ad to be degrading to women and 'inciting rape' by putting women in submissive positions. The images show a woman posed in certain position, basically opening their crotch for public viewing.

These are the images, and my first reactions when I saw them.

My first reaction to the first image was "poor girl, she tripped"

My first reaction to the second image was "fierce roller skates!"

However, this is not the first time the house sparks some controversy over their ads. They were criticized for using a hypersexualized (what seems like) under-age girls, and one of their ads were even banned in the UK for an anorexic-looking girl on their ad. Clearly, provocative art is a part of Saint Laurent's marketing strategy.

I personally think this ad is tame compare to various ads in the past, especially in the porno-chic era! Don't agree with me? Well, let me take you down the memory lane

Tom Ford for Men

This 2007 was banned already in several countries. Putting a perfume bottle in between bare boobs. Sure. If this doesn't say "sex sells" i don't know what does. The ad was shot by the controversial photographer Terry Richardson (who has a fair share of rape accusations by the way)

This version of the ad was interestengly a replacement for another verson, which shows a perfume bottle strategically positioned on a naked woman's vageen

Gucci

Who can forget this ad? Shot by Mario Testino who called it "Pubic Enemy" (genius tiitle by the way!), It has become an iconic image and a poster for the porno-chic era. Gucci, which was under the creative direction of Tom Ford (again, no stranger to sexualized images) sparked a controversy through the image of the ad, which is really not about the clothes but rather about a message "My pussy has a Gucci obsession"

Another Gucci

The powerful position of the man of looking like about to spank the woman's ass, who is in a rather submissive position, made the house to receive complaints as being sexist.

Alexander Wang Denim

Alexander Wang tried to prove the power of pussy by selling sex on his 2014 campaign, shot by Steven Klein. In the campaign series, the model posed in various suggestive poses wearing only Alexander Wang denim pants. Well, hardly wearing it, as the pants are open, almost revealing their ladypart. Wang himself responded to the criticism by saying that it is to invite people to interpret it the way they want it. To me, basically he was saying "whatever bitch, sex sells".

Dolce & Gabbana

Before the house becoming a Viva Italia and Amo a la Mama kind of brand, they wouldn't miss a chance to throw some sex in their DNA. The ad that featured Alessandra Ambrosio being pinned down by a man and surrounded by a group of men onlookers, clearly pissed people off. Well, here she really looks like she was about to be gang raped. Quickly the ad was banned in Spain. The house was no stranger to sexual objectification in their ads.

The fact that sex sells is a classical rethoric. Sex was there to create attention and eventually create desire. Some ads though, were downright sexist and clearly has a disturbing underlining. On the other hand, these images can be simply viewed as provoctive art. As far as art goes, does it still have the right to be subversive?

In the case of Saint Laurent. I personally spoke to a couple of my girl friends who live in different countries, both are not offended by the ad. The photos might not be the best ad photos for them, but they don't see it as offensive.

The house of Saint Laurent is no stranger to provocative art. It is kind of a part of their DNA. I could actually go on and on to show you various images of past YSL ads that feature a naked woman AND man. Yves Saint Laurent himself even posed naked on their 1971 perfume ad, and it has become an iconic image of him.

As far as the clients' concern, I don't think it would have any impact. Saint Laurent is a historical Parisian house that has a strong group of costumers. Its heritage added a a certain prestige that is associated with the brand beyond marketing. Thanks to the appointment of Hedi Slimane as a (now ex) creative director, the brand has gained even more sets of costumers from a totally different generation. We must not forget that Saint Laurent's items are expensive and most people who can afford their clothes only care about the products in store for them, not an image on a bus stop.

[Yves Saint Larent / by Jeanloup Sieff]

The creative director of Saint Laurent today is Anthony Vaccarello, and he is all about sexing up an idea of a Saint Laurent woman. We can see that down the runway, with some baring skin dresses in which one even exposed one boob out. His vision was to empower women through sexual confidence, rather than objectifying them.

But this is a vision that clearly doesn't see eye-to-eye with the one of the feminist groups, as they demanded the ad to be replaced and the French advertising ethics jury are seriously looking into the subject.

I do believe agressively sexist ads (that truly has creepy underlining) are unnecessary. But do we REALLY have an issue with clothed women posing in an ad? Do we have a place today for a slightly provocative art?

And as far as being a feminist goes, are we living in an era where being feminist is a trend by itself? And if not, where were those feminists when other ads featuring sexulized naked women were published since over a decade ago? Not to mention incredibly sexist ads in the 50s and so on.

Well, the Saint Laurent company did not comment on that matter, and neither should they. Because there is no such thing as a bad press, and those who can still come out on top simply have mastered the art of pissing people off.

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TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! VOTE BELOW:

#saintlaurent #ysl #yvessaintlaurent #advertisement #campaign #sex #pornochic #controversy

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