News & Runway

Saint Laurent Called Out (Again) for Featuring Too-Thin Model in ‘Degrading’ Spring Ad Campaign

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Not for the first time, Saint Laurent has attracted the criticism of a European advertising authority. Reuters reports that French advertising watchdog group ARPP (Autorité de Regulation Professionnelle de la Publicité) has asked Saint Laurent to modify two images from its Spring 2017 ad campaign. Both photos, lensed by Dutch photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, are said to violate the “dignity and respect” of the persons they feature and, in turn, advertising industry standards.

One of the offending ads shows model Fernanda Oliveira reclining on the floor wearing roller skate stilettos, fishnets, underwear and a fur coat. Oliveira’s legs, though semi-crossed, are spread open, leaving her crotch on full display.

The other ad in question shows model Hiandra Martinez in a high-leg, long-sleeved leotard, fishnets and those same arty roller skate stilettos. Martinez leans over a stool, her hands hanging limply at her sides. Critics say the ad conjures images of rape and thus glamorizes sexual violence. (Though, based on the below Instagram post, Martinez is pretty happy with the photo. And who wouldn’t be? A Saint Laurent casting is a major career coup. It’s this same logic that compels models to wait in dark stairwells for hours for the chance to walk a Balenciaga show — paid and damned if you do, damned if you don’t.)

SAINT LAURENT thank very much @pg_dmcasting @samuelby @inezandvinoodh. @nextmodels @ossygenomodels

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In addition to the “degrading” content of the ads, the ARPP takes issue with the models’ weight, worrying that their thin frames will send an unhealthy message to impressionable young women. “We asked the brand and the ad displayer to make changes to these visuals as soon as possible,” ARPP head Stephane Martin told Reuters.

Thus far, the ARPP has received over 50 complaints regarding the ads. On Friday, an advertising ethics jury linked to the group but independent of the advertising industry will rule on whether or not these complaints are valid. If so, Saint Laurent may be forced to withdraw the ads.

If not, they’ve gotten some bad press and a slap on the wrist. We doubt the brand is concerned. Back in 2015, the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority banned a Saint Laurent ad starring Kiki Willems over concerns that she was “unhealthily thin.” Since then, Saint Laurent’s casting practices and mood boards haven’t changed much.

[ via Business of Fashion ]