The Fierceness of Calvin Klein Advertisements

Calvin Klein Jeans S/s 2014, featuring models Vanessa Axente and Clark Brockleman, photographed by Mario Sorrenti. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS

I love seeing Calvin Klein advertisements when I flip through magazines- they are so much EVERYTHING! Hot, oil-slicked models and celebs in jeans and underwear posing like there’s no tomorrow. Even the fully-clothed campaigns are to die for!

What could be better??

(Top) Andie Macdowell in a 1982 Calvin Klein Jeans commercial. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS Compare with:
(Bottom) Kristen Stewart as the face of Chanel “Paris-Dallas” Collection S/S 2014. Image CHANEL

Now what does Kristen Stewart have to do with this post? Strangely enough, she inspired it.

A few days ago I saw one of Kristen Stewart’s new ads as the face of Chanel’s spring “Paris-Dallas” Collection and it reminded me of old Calvin Klein Jeans ads. Now to be honest I’m not a huge fan of Chanel’s new campaign, but you can’t deny that Kristen Stewart is quite a capable model. In addition to being Karl’s new girl, she’s the face of Balenciaga’s “Florabotanica” and “Rosabotanica” scents and she has appeared in couture shoots for many magazines.

But this post isn’t about Kristen Stewart’s modelling skills, nor is it about Chanel’s spring campaign; this is about the impact and complete fierceness of Calvin Klein ads!

Calvin Klein Jeans S/s 2010, featuring models Liu Wen and Constance Jablonski and photographed by Craig McDean. Image CALVIN KLEIN

From the early 1980s Calvin Klein ads and commercials have been heating up television and the pages of our favorite fashion magazines. From the infamous 1980 Brooke Shields CK Jeans commercials to the current S/s 2014 collection (starring models Vanessa Axente and Clark Bockelman), Calvin Klein has constantly toed the limits of sexuality in advertising.

Fashion is not and has never been a world of prudes, but Calvin Klein has always been at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of what society and fashion buyers would accept. Nudity, body oil and compromising positions have become staples of their campaigns- causing some of their ads to be banned for being too racy, but catapulting the brand into legendary status for their impact on both Calvin Klein consumers, and modern culture as a whole.

BANNED: Calvin Klein Jeans F/w 2010, featuring Lara Stone, Eric Anderson, Grayson Vaughan and A. J. (not pictured but also in campaign Sid Ellison) photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS

Basically, people love to talk, and Calvin Klein’s ads have ensured that people have been talking about them. The brand has historically been at the forefront of some pretty serious debates with the debut of many of its campaigns. From the controversy of showing semi-nude teenage models (like Kate Moss’ 1990s ads- shot when she was 18) or for being “sexually provocative” and “demeaning to women” (like Lara Stone’s banned 2010 campaign), Calvin Klein ads have struck chords with…. well basically everyone.

Eva Mendes and model Jamie Dornan were the faces of Calvin Klein Jeans S/s 2010 campaign; shot by photographer Stephen Klein. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS

Think about this for a second. Whether you are offended or not by what their campaigns present, the brand has publicly opened up conversations on topics that might not have been deemed acceptable by many. Talk changes the world and they have quite literally helped in this change with each season’s shoots and in the widest of scopes. You want to talk about women’s liberation? Think no further than Eva Mendes’ 2010 CK Underwear ads or basically any that Kate Moss has been in.  The building of powerhouse celebrity careers? Look to Mark Wahlberg’s underwear campaign shot in his days of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

See the power of fashion advertising?

Kate Moss, the face of Calvin Klein’s Fragrance “Obsession” in 1993, shot by Mario Sorrenti. Image CALVIN KLEIN

To the fashion world, Calvin Klein ads have been practically heaven-sent for the amount of public interest- and money- that they’ve injected into the industry. Granted that a lot of the fashion industry is buoyed on hype, it runs on money and these campaigns have been very successful; so much so that they were a huge part of bringing the brand back from bankruptcy in the early 1990s, while constantly injecting needed billions in the sector as a whole.  Many top models and actors also owe much to these Calvin Klein campaigns with the publicity that they garner. The careers of many of today’s top models like Kate Moss, Toni Garrn, Natalia Vodianova, Adam Senn and Scott King were established with shots advertising the brand’s products.

Model Natalia Vodianova and football star Fredrik Ljungberg, the 2006 S/s faces of Calvin Klein Underwear. Image CALVIN KLEIN

Now-unforgettable names owe much to this label, and  really, where would the entertainment world be without Antonio Sabato Jr., Mini Arden, Eva Mendez, Andrew Stetson, Zoe Saldana, Doutzen Kroes, Garett Neff, Jerry Hall, Christy Turlington, Alexander Skarsgard, Jamie Dornan, Scarlett Johansson and many more.

The ads bring new customers with each release, bolstering fashion sales while further extending the range of fashion’s infiltration in modern culture.

Model Emily DiDonato for Calvin Klein Jeans S/s 2010, photographed by Sebastien Kim and Fabien Baron. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS

Personally, I have always been a fan of the ballsy attitude and perfect photography that’s seen in Calvin Klein campaigns. The pictures are beautiful and memorable, chock-full of gorgeous clothing, people and places, and as for the semi- nudity, well I’ve never seen that as a problem. Like most consumers I have always based my shopping on how good the clothes make me look and I appreciate that Calvin Klein sells their products by insinuating that they’ll make you look and feel so good, you’d instantly be irresistibly sexy to everyone.

Calvin Klein Swimwear S/s 2010, featuring models Edita Vilkeviciute and Vladimir Ivanov, photographed by Sebastian Kim. Image CALVIN KLEIN

Just much too fierce!
I approve

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