Marc Jacobs‘ namesake collection is aimed at young women while his perfumes–like Lola and Daisy–skew even younger. His runway shows exclusively feature very young models and his ad campaigns regularly star teenagers (he infamously cast Garren Taylor at thirteen). However, his recent ad for Lola starring Dakota Fanning won’t fly with the British: they’ve banned the ad for sexualizing children.
The ad was shot by Juergen Teller and features Fanning with a flower-shaped perfume bottle between her thighs. She reclines alone above the words “Oh, Lola!”
The image doesn’t take much critical thinking to parse. You can debate her posture, the fact that she’s alone, how much leg the dress reveals, her seductive expression and whether or not any of that is intentional. And please debate! A lot of Thylane Blondeau‘s defenders insisted that any perceived sexuality in images of the 10-year-old came from a problem with the viewer, not the subject or photographer. We disagreed.
But you can’t debate the relentlessly obvious symbolism of Fanning’s crotch flower. And Nabokov fans will recognize Lola as one of Lolita’s nicknames from that novel’s famous first lines (“She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”).[tagbox tag="Dakota Fanning"]
If you think we’re imagining the connection, Marc Jacobs is more than happy to confirm it himself: “I knew [Fanning] could be this contemporary Lolita, seductive yet sweet.” …It’s weird that this statement didn’t get more press when he originally said it, because it’s gross.
In light of all this, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (hereafter ASA) have deemed the ad inappropriate for sexualizing children. They explain:
‘We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16. We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualize a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.’
As for Coty Inc–the mega-firm with Marc Jacobs’ perfume license–they’ve defended the ad by saying it was boundary pushing but not overtly sexual:
Coty admitted the perfume image was ‘edgy’ but denied that the styling suggested the model was underage or inappropriately sexualized. It did not show any private body parts or sexual activity. The giant perfume bottle was provoking but not indecent,’ the firm said.
Provoking but not indecent.
We’re pretty consistently unsettled by the fashion industry’s obsession with youth (especially the Fanning sisters) so we’re glad to see the ASA take a stand like this, just as they did when they banned those L’Oreal ads featuring heavily airbrushed versions of Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington. …However, it’s striking that the ad seemed scarcely out of place by American standards.
What do you think?
(via The Daily Mail)