A lot of hard work goes into selling the dream, and in the world of underwear advertising, hard work translates into sex. Whether it’s androgynous topless teenagers, ripped sports stars, busty Czechs or perky transvestites persuading us to fall into lust with their drawers, you can guarantee that there will be plenty of flesh bared and lips puckered into simmering pouts, emblazoned in sultry black and white. The following 5 underwear advertising campaigns have remained unforgettable for decades and changed the course of fashion irrevocably.
5. Kate Moss for Calvin Klein
In 1982, Calvin Klein came up with the first ever designer underwear brand. It was a decade later, however, that he had his most iconic advertising campaign, which introduced us to an androgynous 18-year-old Kate Moss.
Fresh-faced and topless, with her pants hitched up over the waistband of her jeans, this was the campaign that catapulted her to the forefront of the fashion globe. Kate was wrapped around the rippling torso of hip hop star Mark Wahlberg who later controversially said that he thought Moss looked like his nephew.
Photographer Bruce Webber captured the essence of what it meant to be young and sexy in the 90s with his moody black and white images plastering billboards, sending the sale of Calvin Klein underwear rocketing.
4. David Beckham for Armani
David Beckham’s deal with Italian fashion house Armani (image above) saw turnover for the underwear more than treble, from around 10 million to 32 million pounds. Armani underwear began to fly off the shelves instantly from the start of the three year deal in December 2007.
The first campaign was shot in Los Angeles by fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, doubling the company’s profits in the first year. The campaign was splashed across billboards all over the globe with a 100ft poster unveiled to screaming crowds at a Macy’s department store in San Francisco.
The success of the campaign led to Beckham launching his own underwear range at high street store H&M.
3. Eva Herzigova for Wonderbra
Back in the days when breast implants were unheard of and chicken fillets cost a fortune, Eva Herzigova, “the bouncing Czech” burst onto the scene with the revolutionary underwired Wonderbra.
Advertising executive Trevor Beattie developed the ad for Sara Lee’s “Hello Boys” Wonderbra campaign in 1994, with success of epic proportions.
The Wonderbra became an overnight sensation due to the racy campaign and quickly became an underwear-essential for every fashion-conscious woman.
It appeared that men were also fans of the “Hello Boys” campaign, with a number of car accidents being attributed to the billboard advertisements. The poster was featured in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and it was voted number 10 in a “Poster of the Century” contest.
2. Andrej Pejic for HEMA
Although the advertisement above might not seem like an iconic or remarkable campaign at first glance, the fact that model c is a man is what sparked such controversy.
The Dutch department store, HEMA, advertised a range of women’s push up bras in the controversial snaps taken in 2011. The company’s claim that the Mega Push-Up Bra can boost your cup by two sizes appeared to be confirmed, with Pejic’s ‘no-cup’ chest boosted to a B cup in the ads.
Pejic caused a stir across the fashion world, modelling both male and female clothing, most notably closing Jean Paul Gaultier’s haute couture bridal show earlier this year.
The model’s feminine features caused Barnes & Noble and Borders book stores to consider banning the magazine ‘Dossier Journal’ because he appeared topless on the cover. The book store said that he might be mistaken for a woman and started selling the magazines in brown wrapping paper as a result.
1. Helmut Newton for Wolford
In the 80s, photographer Helmut Newton collaborated with Wolford tights in what was to make fashion history. Hosiery was suddenly hoisted from granny-status, becoming a crucial, lusted-after item.
Newton’s campaigns became cutting-edge, featuring a catalogue of controversial yet stylish images of tall athletic women clad in stockings and high shoes, playing on light and dark shadows in stark architectural locations.
The images are considered as influential and fashion-forward and are constantly referenced to in the modern day.
By Emma Pearson