Criticism for Saint Laurent’s “degrading” advertising campaign

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Saint Laurent, has recently come under fire for its latest poster campaign with claims that the images are degrading to women and promote violent sexual behaviour.

The images in question, displayed in 250 locations around France, picture models in fishnet tights and rollerskate stiletto heels in suggestive poses including bending over a stool and with legs spread wide.

Both the company and France’s advertising watchdog, Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARRP) have received dozens of official complaints, along with uproar on social media slating the campaign as “porno chic”.

A French women’s rights group, Oséz le Feminisme! (Dare to be Feminist!), also held a protest about the photographs last week, in front of a Saint Laurent boutique on Paris’s Left Bank and placed stickers reading “sexiste” over the ads themselves.

The ARRP has responded to the complaints by asking Saint Laurent to make changes to the images as a matter of urgency noting that the “dignity and respect” of the models pictured had been compromised and they are unacceptable for use in advertising.

ARRP director, Stephane Martin said that the images “suggest an idea of sexual submission, trivialize sexist stereotypes, and are in this sense likely to shock [public] sensibility.” He also noted that the models used in the campaign are extremely thin, which may promote anorexia and unhealthy practices to impressionable teen girls.

Saint Laurent was previously criticized over its use of unhealthy-looing models when its spring/summer campaign for 2015 used 18-year-old model Kiki Willems with a prominent ribcage and scarily thin thighs.

The campaign was created by Saint Laurent’s in-house team, led by new designer Anthony Vaccarello. Some have suggested the images were deliberately provocative in order to stir up controversy and therefore publicity.