The Very NSFW History of Calvin Klein's Provocative Ads
Calvin Klein just released its advertising campaign for autumn/winter 2016 and, if you ask us, it just might strike the perfect balance between considerable star power and the provocative image that has become a central part of the brand's DNA.
But before you go thinking overtly sexualised campaigns are a recent development, let's take a look back at the archives. Because Calvin Klein and sex have been bedfellows since the company launched nearly four decades ago, with the brand's ad campaigns have been ruffling feathers since the start.
From Brooke Shields not allowing anything to come between her and her Calvins, to a naked Kate Moss, to Kendall Jenner's strangely eroticised grapefruit, here's the history of Calvin Klein's controversial ads.
BROOKE SHIELDS, 1980
Brooke Shields was just 15 years old when she was tapped for the campaign that launched one of CK's most famous rounds of public outrage. The print ads and commercials were shot by Richard Avedon and featured the famous line, "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing." It's the same line that got the TV spot banned by ABC and CBS in New York. No underwear? No air time, apparently.
KATE MOSS AND MARK WAHLBERG, 1992
Kate Moss, who was called too skinny in her (mostly naked) 90s ads for the brand.
She was also cavorting with a similarly topless man known, at the time, as Marky Mark.
MARK WAHLBERG, 1992
KATE MOSS, 1993
And then there were those iconic Obsession cologne ads, which featured Moss once more.
They weren't exactly covered up.
As you can see.
They were very naked.
Funnily enough, the underwear ads during that same period were tame by comparison. Though you don't technically need to be wearing clothing to sell fragrance, and it does make sense to show the underwear itself. Mystery solved.
CHRISTY TURLINGTON, 1995
By the mid 90s, Moss had moved on and Christy Turlington took up the mantle of Calvin Klein underwear model.
We presume no one had any problems with this.
She was also the face of the iconic Eternity fragrance campaign, alongside the model Mark Vanderloo.
But it wasn't all classy black-and-white portraiture. In fact, one Calvin Klein jeans campaign seemed like it was actively designed to court controversy. This shot is part of a larger collection of photos, all with the same grainy, wood-paneled aesthetic. It's salacious, but it's nothing compared to the ads that ran on TV, which had people accusing the company of glorifying child pornography.
EVA MENDES, 2008
Flash forward to the 2000s: the era for more celebrity nudity. This time, Eva Mendes took the spotlight in a campaign for the brand's Secret Obsession perfume, which features her rolling around on a bed completely naked. It was banned from US networks for being too controversial.
If a lone, nude Eva Mendes isn't for you, how about five scantily clad models on a couch?
LARA STONE, 2011
Stone took over in 2011 for this provocative—and somewhat spooky—campaign.
CHRISTY TURLINGTON, 2013
Look who's back? It's difficult to believe that Turlington is nearly 20 years older here than she was in her original Calvin Klein campaigns.
CHRISTY TURLINGTON, 2014
This is probably why the label did another Eternity ad with her, in which she posed with her husband Ed Burns.
LARA STONE, 2014
Here's Lara Stone again.
JUSTIN BIEBER, 2015
Were Bieber's pecs photoshoppped? Some say so.
JUSTIN BIEBER AND LARA STONE, 2015
Bieber and Stone in a compromising position.
KENDALL JENNER, 2015
Kendall Jenner enters the fray. Though Klein (who left the company more than a decade ago) is on the record with his lack of enthusiasm for her involvement with the brand, the uproar that accompanied her debut suggests that the public is fine with it.
A throwback to Moss?
And now we come to the sexting. The Calvin Klein jeans autumn/winter 2015 campaign was inspired by "raw texts, real stories", which means the ads were full of fun references to late-night booty calls and at least one "light threesome".
The campaign also brought us the first instance of a gay couple in a Calvin Klein ad. Finally.
ABBEY LEE KERSHAW, SPRING/SUMMER 2016
Next up: the spring/summer 2016 campaign, referred to unofficially as "Erotica", is released. This is a picture of the model Abbey Lee Kershaw's hands shoved down the front of her underwear. There is no telling what the message is supposed to be.
JUSTIN BIEBER, SPRING/SUMMER 2016
Here's some more Bieber.
KENDALL JENNER, SPRING/SUMMER 2016
The infamous grapefruit.
A shot from behind.
KLARA KRISTIN, SPRING/SUMMER 2016
This one seriously annoyed some people, though both the model and photographer were happy with the results. Accusations of glorifying predatory "upskirt" shots were rampant.
MARGOT ROBBIE, AUTUMN/WINTER 2016
By comparison, the autumn/winter campaign that just came out is very tame.
ZOË KRAVITZ, AUTUMN/WINTER 2016
Maybe not that tame...
BELLA HADID, AUTUMN/WINTER 2016
The brand welcomed the bombshell Bella Hadid.
ANNA EWERS, AUTUMN/WINTER 2016
Still sexy, but a little more subtle.
KATE MOSS, AUTUMN/WINTER 2016
And finally, we come full circle with Moss. She's wearing more than she was the last time we saw her, but is no less stunning.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.