One of the controversial YSL ads is displayed on a Paris newsstand.
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Digital Daily issue 03/07/2017

PHOTO FAUX PAS: France’s advertising watchdog has asked Saint Laurent to modify visuals from its spring advertising campaign after receiving a number of complaints that they feature allegedly “degrading” images of women.

This story first appeared in the March 7, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité, or ARPP, has received around 70 complaints since last Friday about images from the Kering-owned brand’s spring campaign, according to ARPP general manager Stéphane Martin.

The two targeted ads, for Anthony Vaccarello’s debut collection for the label, feature models in fishnet tights and high-heel roller-skates, legs apart, including one leaning over a stool in a suggestive position. The campaign currently appears on billboards around France, mainly in Paris, and was published in certain magazines over the weekend.

Complaints include that the images are “demeaning,” “an incitation to rape,” and “encouraging anorexia,” Martin told WWD.

Representatives of Saint Laurent were not immediately available for comment.

The ARPP’s jury will meet on Friday to discuss the complaints, but it has already asked Saint Laurent to cease distributing the offensive ads, Martin said.

“We have alerted the advertiser, who is a member of ARPP, that these images do not conform with our code of conduct,” he said. “Respect for creative freedom is one thing, but there is also respect for the consumer.

“The brand needs to ask itself what image it is giving, especially to impressionable young people,” he said. “This could have a broader impact, for the brand’s beauty products, for example.”

Saint Laurent’s beauty license is held by L’Oréal, and was one of the beauty giant’s fastest-growing properties in the past year thanks to strong business in fragrance and makeup.

It is not the first time Saint Laurent has gotten into hot water for its portrayal of women in its advertising. The U.K.’s advertising watchdog banned a Saint Laurent advert for spring 2015, when Hedi Slimane was at the design helm of the brand, on the grounds that the model in it “appeared unhealthily underweight.”

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