The 15 most controversial fashion campaigns in history

  • By:karen-millen



In order to attract public attention, many high-end and high-end brands have crossed the ethical boundaries of advertising and have gone so far as to run ads that have drawn criticism and even censorship. Which are the most transgressive?


Yves Saint Laurent

The 15 most controversial fashion campaigns from the story

One of the first most controversial ads would come in 2002 from the well-known French firm. To promote the iconic perfume 'Opium', presented in 1977 and then causing a stir because of its name, the brand launched an ad in which the model Sophie Dahl allowed herself to be photographed naked in a position that suggested her personal ecstasy. . The campaign has transcended time and today is one of the most emblematic of the fashion house, but back then it took the cake to critics. Photo: Yves Saint Laurent

Calvin Klein

Mark Wahlberg succeeds as an actor but his first steps were as a model. Calvin Klein was one of the firms that counted on him and he did so in 1992 to present one of the photographs that would mark the underwear firm the most. In it, a young Wahlberg posed shamelessly holding his private parts. Today this image represents the essence of the house, but in the early 1990s it caused quite a stir, being labeled "too explicit."Photo: Calvin Klein


The sports firm added itself to the ranking of controversial ads in 2003. That year it launched a campaign for its sneakers that hinted at fellatio. Public opinion pointed out that the spot denigrated the image of women and that it appealed to sex to get an audience. The firm itself took legal action against the creators of the ad. Photo: Puma

Marithé François Girbaud

The strictest religious spheres raised a cry to heaven with the 2005 campaign of Marithé François Girbaud. In it, the signature represented the scene from Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper, where each of the apostles and even Jesus himself were reincarnated by female models. The brand defended that it was his particular vision of criticizing a world dominated by men. Photo: Marithé François Girbaud


Image obsession and thinness have gone hand in hand in the fashion world for the past few years. Many cases of eating disorders have been prompted by it. Thus, in 2006 the Nolita firm criticized the canons of beauty and showed the world the consequences of this tragic disease with a very transgressive campaign. Made by the photographer Oliviero Toscani, the commercial showed the model Isabelle Caro, sick with anorexia, completely naked. The purpose of the company was to raise awareness in society, but it took opinions of all kinds. Photo: Oliviero Toscani for Nolita


The dominance of men over women was the theme that Dolce&Gabbana took up for its 2007 campaign. In it, a model forces a young woman before the inert gaze of a group of men. The strong macho component led to the immediate censorship of the ad. Photo: Dolce&Gabbana


The fashion house was seeking controversy in 2007 with a campaign in which it wanted to compare the consumer's passion for its designs with the addiction to cocaine. In it, two models pretend to snort one of the brand's dresses. Photo: Sisley

Tom Ford

The designer has always been characterized by his transgressive air but in 2007 he crossed the limits with the announcement of his first men's fragrance. The allegory to sex in the spot was intended to say that the new perfume would take men "where they wanted to be". The result, however, was controversy, especially from the wings that defended the image of women in society. Photos: Tom Ford

Ralph Lauren

The model Flippa Hamilton was on everyone's lips in 2009 but not because of her talent, but because of the excessive photographic retouching that Ralph Lauren did in one of the campaign photos that the young woman starred in. In it, the 23-year-old girl showed an extreme -and false- thinness that was highly discussed. Subsequently, the firm linked to polo broke the contract it had had with the top for seven years for "being fat", according to what Hamilton told the media. Photo: Ralph Lauren


With the slogan 'Smart have the brains, but stupid has the balls. Be stupid' (Smart people have brains, stupid people have tits. Be stupid), the firm specialized in denim received a great wave of criticism in 2010. It was the first time that the brand showed its most controversial facet and the spot was censored in several countries. Photo: Diesel

American Apparel

The hyperbanalization of sex has been the road map of this American firm since its origins. His commercials have always been subject to controversy and one of them was even censored by the ASA, a British advertising control agency. More recently, another spot showed a young Hindu woman with her breasts exposed and covered by the slogan 'Made in Bangladesh', and which was criticized for taking advantage of the tragedy that happened in the city to increase sales. For all these reasons, this year the company fired its CEO Dove Charney. Photos: American Apparel

United Colors of Benetton

The firm has always been closely linked to social respect and its campaigns advocate equality. Under the slogan Unhate, the clothing brand released a series of images in 2011 where known political and religious "enemies" kissed. The photographs -made using editing programs- showed the kisses of Pope Benedict XVI with an imam, President Obama with Venezuelan leader Hugo Cávez, or Chancellor Merkel with former French President Nicolás Sarkozy. The reactions were multiple and the most drastic came from the Vatican, which forced the firm to remove the image referring to the former Pope. Photos: United Colors of Benetton


In 2012, the Spanish firm tried to reach out to young people with its 'Oro Collection' commercial where well-known faces from the country tried to represent the Madrid aesthetic of the 70s and 80s. Within minutes of its launch, Twitter was ablaze with detractions that pointed out that the brand had lost all its values ​​with that non-representation of the young society. María Forqué (plastic artist), Lorena Prain (illustrator), Andrea Ferrer (editor and public relations), Antonio Mingot (photographer) participated in the campaign and María Ronsenfeldt, Víctor Vergara and the twins Lucía and Helena Cuesta (design students). Also the popular actor from A Coruña Martín Rivas, the young journalism student Sita Abellán (from Murcia), the Valencian video artist Carlos Sáez and the Barcelona musician Josep Xorto. Photo: Loewe

Victoria's Secret

The famous lingerie brand sparked controversy with the 'Sexy Little Geisha' ensemble from its 'Go East' collection in 2012. In the commercial image, top Candice Swanepoel looked suggestive in an erotic geisha outfit. The act was dismissed as disrespectful to Eastern culture and the brand was quick to remove the campaign and its slogan. Photo: Victoria's Secret

The Wrong Turn

The latest wave of criticism has been taken by Indian photographer Raj Shetye after presenting a fashion report where beautiful models dressed in glamor represent the rape of a woman on a bus, a real case that happened in New Delhi in 2012 .Photos: Raj Shetye

Show comments
At the Minute

The 15 most controversial fashion campaigns in history
  • 360
  • Which fashion company known for sexy clothing took down the founder?

Related Articles