Calvin Klein: always looking to shock.
We've all seen those billboards: those larger than life, more chiseled than life men staring down at the commoners as we drive or walk underneath, wondering how in the world one human being can be so blessed genetically. Whether you're comprehending the enormity of the biceps or the starchiness of the underwear, the name Calvin Klein is never long to follow in the train of thought. Growing up in a billboard-loving city such as Sydney, its plain to see that Mr Klein has never been one to understate his collections, inevitably ruffling a fair amount of feathers in doing so. But who doesn't love ruffled feathers?
The brand's advertising campaign timeline is one speckled with black and white, semi-pornographic controversy, dating back to around 1980 with a superbly agile Brooke Shields purring about DNA. Since then, Calvin Klein has been a major proponent of the youth trend in fashion campaigns, pushing greasy-haired, stormy-eyed male models (and Kate Moss!) into the forefront of his ads. Klein has undoubtedly driving towards instant recognition, and in that he's succeeded. Always black and white and dripping with sex appeal, most people can smell a CK ad from a mile away. Who can forget (or dislike) the Lara Stone commercial?
The lines of acceptability were distinctly blurred in 1995 when Klein parted from the youth trend and jumped on the Lolita trend, the latter never really taking off. Models as young as 15 were used to mimic 'picture set' pornography of the sixties, much to the distaste of consumer and child welfare advocates. Later in 1999, he stirred the pot again with the campaign for his children's line which involved photos of girls and boys playing on couches wearing nothing but CK undergarments. Whatever, at least he didn't claim to love Hitler.
After 20-odd years and a succession of television bans on his ads, you'd think Calvin might get the message this year and go for something subtler. But then, they wouldn't be Calvin Klein underwear, would they? His 2011 campaigns produced by Solon Quinn Studios have both been banned ? too much sex, apparently. What the fun police don't realise is that resistance is futile; any four-year-old can get onto YouTube these days. Look, we did it!