Chloe Hamblen probably wasn’t thinking about politics when she was putting together the latest hyper-erotic collection for her UK lingerie brand Lascivious.
But her sizzling new marketing campaign, launched only days after British Prime Minister David Cameron‘s pledge to clean up the Internet, comes as a timely, topical rebuke of anyone‘s attempt to meddle in people’s private sex lives.
Lascivious‘s new campaign is undoubtedly the raunchiest — and most controversial — thing you’ll see all year in lingerie marketing. The black-and-white photos and accompanying video depict a wide range of behaviors: girl-girl, bondage and fetish play, group sex, public sex and a slightly sinister scene in a parking garage.
The most dramatic images showcase Lascivious‘s new line of men’s boxers (below), whose waistbands are imprinted with the unambiguous slogan, “Blow Me”. (Trust me, these will fly off the shelves.)
Stunningly composed and shot by fashion photographer Szymon Brodziak, who specializes in this sort of material, the Lascivious campaign is meant to be a celebration of the erotic imagination, inviting viewers to consider the possibilities of opening up to new kinds of erotic fun.
It’s more suggestive than explicit and, in fact, explores some of the same territory that Agent Provocateur and other button-pushing brands have been frolicking in for years. Still, those with a puritanical streak will see this as porn; you can almost hear the UK advertising censors twitching and the chat-show moralists squirming for a chance to take on Lascivious and the rest of the UK’s booming fetish-focused lingerie community.
Yet, apart from its considerable artistic merits, the Lascivious fall campaign wouldn’t be all that remarkable were it not for its timing.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister made headlines around the world by promising new laws that will require citizens to “opt in” before adult web content can be shown on their personal computers. Almost immediately, legislators in other countries (including Canada and the U.S.) started musing aloud about finding similar ways to curb the proliferation of Internet porn.
David Cameron’s proposal is intended to protect children from unwanted exposure to pornography (and to give parents a way to control their kids’ online activities), but it also has troubling implications for civil liberties. To be blunt, anyone who chooses to see any kind of “adult” content will have to declare their tastes to their Internet service provider before porn filters are removed.
In Cameron’s proposed nanny state, millions of Brits will be shamed into looking away rather than debating the “opt-in” issue with their spouse or families … or risk having their names show up one day on a national database of porn-watchers.
The Lascivious campaign was probably not meant as a rebuttal to Cameron’s proposals, but it helps to illustrate Britain’s conflicting public and private attitudes about sex, which have been a distinctive feature of the national character for centuries. Thus, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that while Cameron might view NSFW lingerie marketing as contrary to the national interest, his smart, stylish wife Sam may be checking out the Lascivious spread in GQ magazine today and thinking, “Ooooo, I liiiike this!“.
(Another timely irony: the Lascivious shoot includes several openly lesbian scenes and comes on the heels of Cameron’s controversial comment this week that Britain is “the best place in Europe to be gay” and that he wants to “export” the country’s tolerant approach to gay marriage.)
Would Cameron’s war on porn affect material like this from Lascivious or other fashion campaigns that veer into suggestive, erotic territory? That’s hard to know yet, but the country’s fashion marketers (especially those involving lingerie) already face the wrath of official censors on a regular basis. It’s hard not to conclude that anti-porn laws, or any attempt to regulate imagery depicting sexuality, are a “wedge” issue that potentially threaten the freedoms of both the lingerie industry and its customers.
Lascivious probably didn’t know it was going to hit such a huge hot button when it launched its new campaign this week, but in the fight for greater freedom of sexual expression, they’ve just launched the latest volley. Bring it on!