The Year in Intimate Scandals

With a few notable exceptions – Calvin Klein Underwear in the 90s, Victoria’s Secret’s entire oeuvre – intimates ads have overwhelmingly tended to downplay the inherent sexuality of the goods, surrounding them with lily white cotton sheets, pillow fights and a chaise lounge here and there. Enter 2011: the year of the controversial lingerie ad. From exotic dancers for art’s sake to a model traipsing through Paris in her skivvies, intimate apparel is living up to its reputation as an agent of provocation, and we don’t just mean Paz de la Huerta exposing it all for Agent Provocateur (which actually rates pretty low on the scandal scale given the starlet’s history of bad behavior). Here are a few memorable examples from the year that would make even your mom’s black-and-white Calvin Klein ads blush.

The latest company to stir the proverbial pot is Dutch retailer Hema. In an unprecedented move, Hema enlisted the talents of male model Andrej Pejic to promote, of all things, their new push-up bra. Clad in a rather demure red dress, the androgynous blonde beauty effectively hyperbolizes the miraculous, hormone-free merits of Hema’s cleavage-boosting bras.

Speaking of cleavage, full-figured retailer Lane Bryant was shunned by a few major networks for supposedly showing too much of the real thing. Commercials starring voluptuous model Ashley Graham were deemed too racy for the Dancing with the Stars/American Idol demographic, when they were no more exposing than, say, Victoria’s Secret “The Nakeds” ads. From double D’s to double standards.

Like Hema, Brooklyn-based The Lake & Stars pushed the comfort levels of the consumer with a campaign featuring a real-life mother and daughter modeling team in several intimate (some might say incestuous) poses. The ads reminded this editor of the sisterly affection displayed in editorials of teen models Niki and Krissy Taylor that unsettled Seventeen Magazine readers back in the 90s. In their true renegade style, The Lake & Stars released the artfully shot pole-dancing videos mentioned above as a follow-up.

Perhaps no other label faced more vitriol this year than Paris-based Jours Après Lunes for their “grown-up” underwear ads targeted towards prepubescent girls. Having seen the irresistibly cute line in person and chatted with lovely designer Sophie Morin several times at the Paris trade shows, we couldn’t quite get behind the uproar, especially when the brand’s distribution is restricted to a certain side of the pond that has much more liberal views towards fashion and sex.

In the case of Gisele Bündchen for Hope Lingerie, it wasn’t conservatives who were up in arms over the commercial’s sexist subtext but women’s groups. In the TV spot, the Brazilian bombshell uses her feminine charms (and sexy lingerie) to smooth things over with the hubby after crashing his car and maxing out his credit card, among other misdeeds. It works, of course. But this is Gisele, after all.

On a personal note, there was perhaps no bigger controversy in the Stylesight Fashion Office than the return of onesies for men. While we can get behind thermal “long johns” for layering purposes, the Snuggified sleep versions complete with *gasp* footies and even firemen’s flaps were a bit too kitschy for our tastes. In the end – especially with everyone from Topman to Barneys shilling these things – we could not deny the charm of the “winter onesie”  for a holiday season that celebrates nostalgia, warm fuzzies and all around cheese. J.Crew said it best in their description: “You may laugh, but you’ll love it.”

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