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Gucci's Resort Campaign Featured an 'Unhealthily Thin' Model, UK Ad Regulator Rules

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The UK's Advertising Standards Authority strikes again! This time, they're going after Gucci.

Though the brand's released multiple advertising campaigns since its 2016 cruise collection went live in September, they're only in hot water this week, when the Authority handed down a ruling stating that one of the models looked "unhealthily thin."

The image, in which a model in a shin-length printed dress leans against a wall in an Italian villa, ran on the website of London's The Times in December at the tail end of Gucci's campaign video. The ASA wrote in its assessment Wednesday, "We considered that her torso and arms were quite slender and appeared to be out of proportion with her head and lower body. Further, her pose elongated her torso and accentuated her waist so that it appeared very small. We also considered that her sombre facial expression and dark make up, particularly around her eyes, made her look gaunt."


The Gucci image in question. Photo: Glen Luchford/Gucci

If that sounds subjective, it is, and that's what both Gucci and The Times said when the ASA originally registered the complaint. But in the ASA's view, appearances are all that matter; if a fashion house photographs a model in such a way that she looks emaciated, whether through her pose or makeup or the shot's lighting, it has breached ASA codes on "responsible advertising" to an impressionable public — even if, as Gucci contended, the publication in which the images cropped up targets an "adult and mature readership."

The outcome is that the ad can't appear again in the UK in its present form. Back in June, the ASA banned a Saint Laurent ad for similar reasons. In the regulator's words, a shot of Dutch model Kiki Willems "drew particular focus to the model's chest, where her rib cage was visible and appeared prominent, and to her legs, where her thighs and knees appeared a similar width."

A rep for Gucci declined to comment on Wednesday's ASA ruling.