Shocking! 5 Most Controversial Lingerie Ads

A little controversy is sometimes needed when you’re selling a product and you want it to get noticed fast. Innerwear brands seem to know this very well, which is why they keep producing advertisements that push the boundaries. Does it work? Some brands claim that these controversial ads have helped increase sales, such as Dolce & Gabbana, which reported a revenue increase of 21% in the same year that they were slammed for their infamous “Fantasy Rape” campaign. But on the other side of the coin are the obvious consequences: if deemed too racy, these ads can backfire and bring bad publicity to the brands (although some will argue that bad publicity is still publicity). As is the case with some, they can be forced to pull these ads and issue an apology.

Anyway, effective or not, let’s look at some of the most controversial lingerie ads to have ever been propelled into public consciousness:

Elle MacPherson Intimates

When Elle MacPherson launched her intimates label in 2004, she came up with a series of key-hole images that showed a woman in various risque poses, seen from the point of view of someone peeking through a keyhole–this is one of those images. The ads was were heavily criticized for their voyeuristic nature, but some publications still carried them, which no doubt helped the brand reach global recognition. Calvin Klein This brand has come under fire for a lot of their advertisements that are considered overtly sexual. One of the most infamous was this billboard that featured the beautiful Eva Mendez with male model Jamie Dornan. It caused quite a stir in the neighbourhood where this billboard was located because it appeared as if Eva was trying to remove the male model’s underpants! I can just imagine moms trying to cover their children’s eyes while passing by this billboard :D


When you look at this ad, you’re probably wondering, What’s wrong with it? Well, the answer is nothing, which is exactly why it received a lot of criticism. This high-end innerwear brand featured supermodel Kate Moss, who, at 37 when this ad was shot in 2010, looked taut-skinned and fresh-faced, much too perfect for it to be real. The image was criticized for presenting a misleading picture to impressionable young women through excessive airbrushing; meanwhile, the public has been made very aware of Kate’s hard-partying lifestyle, which would result in wrinkles and cellulite that are normally very visible.
Jours Apres Lunes

A lingerie line for young girls? Not shocking at all. But producing an ad featuring girls as young as 10 years old with heavy makeup, belly-button piercings, and stiletto heels? Shameful! Understandably, the French intimate label received outrage over their 2011 campaign. The brand’s comment? There is nothing vulgar about the images. Seriously?

The Lake and Stars

New York-based lingerie company, The Lake and Stars, is included in this list because of their new campaign,  featuring a mother and her 19-year-old daughter in an intimate embrace wearing nothing but their, well, intimates. Most of the outrage stems from the incestuous and homoerotic references, but the brand’s owner, Maayan Zilberman, was shocked at the negative reaction because she said the images were meant to represent the beauty of a mother-daughter relationship. What do you think?