Marc Jacobs’ new fragrance has caused quite a stink after UK advertising watchdogs announced that the ad campaign surrounding ‘Oh Lola!’ was “likely to cause serious offence”. The advert features a very innocent-looking Dakota Fanning, sitting on the floor, wearing a short, pink, polka dot dress and holding a bottle of the fragrance between her thighs. The advertising regulator claimed that 17 year old Fanning’s position was “sexually provocative”, and the Advertising Standards Authority received complaints that the young model was portrayed in a “sexualised manner”.
The ASA later explained, “We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16. We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child.”
Marc Jacobs has made no secret of the fact that he intended to exploit Dakota Fanning’s young and naïve looks, once stating, “I knew she could be this contemporary Lolita, seductive yet sweet”. While this makes Marc Jacobs sounds awfully cultured and hip, it must not be ignored that Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita was about a desperate middle aged man’s unhealthy, sexual obsession with a 12 year old girl.
The fragrance was produced and is distributed by Coty UK; the company said they felt that the image featured in the magazine campaign was “similar to many other edgy images in those magazines”. However, can Coty really expect the provocative advert to be dismissed as ‘edgy,’ when the model was handpicked by an artist who admittedly took inspiration from the romanticised story of a paedophile?
Of course it is, and always has been the fashion designers prerogative to push the limits, and to get people talking through their vision, but in today’s hypersensitive world perhaps it is the responsibility of the people working with the creative genius to tone down the outrage. Whether the ad campaign was intentionally suggestive of paedophilia or intended as nothing more than a quirky, high fashion image, implications should always be considered, and the sexualisation of children will never, ever be cool. Let’s hope they keep it less Lolita and more fashionista in the future.