In an instance of what can perhaps be best described as a “better late than never” scenario for those who instigated it, a Calvin Klein advertisement featuring British singer FKA twigs which debuted in April 2023 has now been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
FKA twigs – real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett – made her debut in 2012 with EP1, which she followed with her first full-length release, cleverly titled LP1, in 2014. The album hit No. 16 on the UK Albums chart and No. 30 on the Billboard 200, spawning the hit single “Two Weeks,” which climbed to No. 9 on the UK Indie chart.
The grounds for the decidedly belated banning of the ad – which featured FKA twigs with a shirt draped over her in such a manner as to reveal the side of her buttocks and part of one of her breasts – is ostensibly that the photograph presented the singer as “a stereotypical sexual object.”
Just to clarify this a bit more specifically, precisely two people complained about the image to the ASA, making the argument that the singer had been inappropriately sexualized within the ad. The organization concurred with the complainants and issued a statement which said: "The ad used nudity and centred on FKA twigs’ physical features rather than the clothing. In addition to making the statement about how she was presented as "a stereotypical sexual object." The statement continued that the “image’s composition placed viewers’ focus on the model’s body rather than on the clothing being advertised."
In response, Calvin Klein issued their own statement about the campaign, which also featured Kendall Jenner, saying: "The images were not vulgar and were of two confident and empowered women who had chosen to identify with the Calvin Klein brand, and the ads contained a progressive and enlightened message," arguing that the poses were "natural and neutral."
When the campaign was originally announced in March 20232, FKA twigs took to Instagram to announce its impending arrival, praising the work of the photography duo behind the project.
“It’s an honour to be the new face of Calvin Klein and to have worked so closely with my dear friends Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot to create something that I believe reflects me as a woman an artist,” she wrote. “These pictures and visuals are a physical representation to remind myself that being strong to the best of one’s personal ability will never go out of fashion.”
As of this writing, FKA Twigs has yet to react to the ruling.