Condé Nast’s Love magazine under fire for Christmas campaign

Condé Nast may have only recently waved goodbye to Terry Richardson, but the publishing house’s sexually explicit content just keeps on giving. British biannual Love magazine has drawn condemnation again this month for its yearly digital advent calendar. The  #LOVEADVENT calendar features daily December video clips and they may be hashtagged with #STAYSTRONG, but some have characterised them as pornographic and hugely exploitative at a time when consumer opinion is moving in the opposite direction. 
 


"Seriously, this entire campaign is an insult to women,” one Instagrammer commented. “So only beautiful and toned women are strong? And do you have to strip down to your underwear and pose suggestively to be 'strong'? Isn't this just basically softcore porn, aimed at men? What part of this campaign empowers women?"

The holiday-themed video series, shot by leading fashion photographer Phil Poynter, stars models-of-the-moment including Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin. The short films, also available to watch on Youtube, feature the models working out in lingerie, activewear and spaghetti, while eating ice cream or lifting weights.


 

It’s not the first time that the magazine’s provocative annual advent campaign has made the headlines. Earlier this month, the calendar sparked a vigorous debate between editor-turned-TV presenter Piers Morgan and model Emily Ratajkowski. The famously outspoken Morgan suggested that “somewhere, Emmeline Pankhurst just vomited” at Ratajkowski’s shoot, while the model responded to the criticism with the statement that “feminism is about… freedom and choice.”  

Is this an attempt to deliberately court controversy? Maybe. But it undeniably comes at a time when the trend is moving the other way. Even 'institutions' like the Pirelli calendar, running since the 1960s, have taken a sharp turn towards more progressive and diverse images of women.

And at a time when fitness, wellness and body positivity are trending, many have questioned the continued relevance of a Playboy-style calendar. 

The Love calendar's inclusion of 'traditional lingerie' has also surprised some as sales of such products are decidedly down, while athleisure-influenced intimates are rising.

Brands are having to reassess what messages are really resonating with Millennial women -  particularly in the wake of high-profile accusations of sexual misdemeanours in the fashion industry. As mentioned earlier, in October, Condé Nast took the decision to stop working with Terry Richardson – but critics insisted that the media giant should have cut ties sooner. It will be interesting to see how far any social media criticism of this calendar will go.
 

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