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Versace released the first images from its brand new Fall 2016 ads campaign on Friday, images that include Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss. But negative reactions to the photos have slowly simmered all weekend.
The Versace shot that's garnered the most buzz is Hadid's. The model is pictured as the mom in an interracial "modern family," flanked by a model playing her husband and two children playing her kids. It's just one of the images that, as the New York Times' Vanessa Friedman put it, was meant to "move [the brand] from fashion fantasy to actuality."
But the fact that Versace cast childless 21-year-old Hadid as a mother of two instead of a model who actually is a mom is just one thing that's got social media users irked:
why didn't they get jourdan dunn to do the mom campaign because she's actually a mom https://t.co/PQnqqk8Idg— Deaux (@dstfelix) June 3, 2016
The concept of the last Versace ad camp is so ???? To me. Gigi as a teen mom what??— Nayla (@PnkLucozad) June 3, 2016
Please don't even try me today with Gigi being a MOM in that Versace ad. I am not clear on.— joelle hyman (@JOELLEHYMAN) June 3, 2016
Many were also confused as to why Hadid's black daughter appears to be restrained by a chain in her stroller. One user in the comments on Versace's Instagram post asked, "Why is there a chain around the little black girl who clearly is not mixed weird photo," while Instagram fashion photo curator, @Ppennylane said: "Please remove this ad. It's embarrassing to you as a designer. SMH." She later expanded on her comment with her own photo, stating:
Rg @marsellodavies Take this ad down Versace, it's embarrassing. SMH. This entire ad focuses on the token fair skinned mother. Both child and father looking at her in awe. Minorities are severely underrepresented in the industry and when in ads, they're almost ALWAYS depicted in the shadow of an elite fair skinned model.
Earlier this morning, seemingly in response to people's negative reactions to the photo, Donatella Versace posted an Instagram of herself, Hadid, and the little girl who played Hadid's daughter with the caption, "Her name is Brianna and she is so cute!"
In addition to this criticism, there are other aspects of the campaign that rub the wrong way — specifically its Chicago backdrop. The city has continued to make headlines over the last few months for issues like police brutality against minorities and increased levels of violence and murders.
In an interview with the Times' Friedman, Versace says that the man behind the location was the campaign's iconic fashion photographer, Bruce Weber, and that he chose Chicago specifically after reading a story about local social activist Father Mike.
"I went to hear him speak before we started shooting, and he was talking about politics and the need to restore old neighborhoods, and it made me think I wanted these pictures to mean something to the city," Weber said.
Yet a quick glance at Hadid's and Kloss's photos don't seem to reflect much of that political reality. Kloss is pictured alongside a former bodyguard and Afghanistan vet from the city, but that's about as authentically Chicago as it gets.
Of course, these are only a couple of the images in the campaign. Versace said that while they worked with three women that were models (Kloss, Hadid, and Dilone), the campaign also includes 17 men who were non-models, including hip-hop dancers and men on the street.
Here's hoping the rest of the campaign gets its point across better than these.