Most women learned about lingerie from their mothers. It’s one of the countless intimate threads that bind a mother and child together.
So it’s a bit baffling to see the “controversy” generated by these images from the fall campaign by The Lake and Stars, which feature a mother-and-daughter modeling duo.
I put “controversy” in quotes because I’m not sure whether the fuss around these images is real, or just fanned by a few intemperate bloggers looking for something to tsk-tsk about. Does anyone truly find these shots upsetting or the poses suggestive?
The photos have been on the Lake and Stars website for about a month, but didn’t get widespread exposure until Friday, when the Huffington Post reported that the non-professional models were a mother-daughter duo from Brooklyn who actually live next door to TL&S co-founder Maayan Zilberman. The mom, in her 40s, is a jewelry designer and her daughter, 19, is an aspiring actress.
After that initial report, however, the “story” spread rapidly across the internet, prompting observations like this one from Canada’s Fashionism, which says the photos show the models “embracing provocatively”:
“The fashion industry isn’t afraid to make a controversial statement to garner publicity. Ad campaigns are often a way to hook public attention, but often times these ads go too far. … I believe that in a society where girls are already faced with a lot of peer pressure and competition from their friends and colleagues, it is unnecessary to add the burden of comparing themselves to their mothers.”
Nikki Dekker, the other half of TL&S, told Lingerie Talk the controversy surrounding the Tom Hines photos wasn’t unexpected.
“We knew some people would have some issues with it, so we’re not surprised,” she said. “We don’t see (the images) as a sexual relationship at all, so it’s interesting to see the reaction they’re getting.”
For the designers, the photo series was more about generating discussion than controversy.
“A lot of the themes that we’re dealing with are about psychology between women as they’re growing up and dealing with family politics or women in the workplace,” Maayan told the HuffPost.
“So for our customer, for our viewer to see these photographs, you’re confronted with this feeling of ‘who’s the sexy one?’ Because there’s always someone who’s sexier and there’s always some kind of competition going on; there’s always a tenderness going on; there’s always a tension.
“We’re opening it up to think about: Is it OK for a mother and daughter to feel tender toward each other? And what happens when they’re in sexy clothing?”
From my vantage point, the images depict an extremely private universe that, like many family dynamics, resists any attempt to deconstruct it. There are overtones of inter-generation competitiveness in the subtle role reversal that occurs in this series, but those are offset by the nurturing and protective elements in the women’s relationship.
Most women, I suspect, would love to have this degree of openness and trust in their relationship with their children — or their parents.
The Lake and Stars have a gift for provoking discussion about the connection between our private lives and public selves, and how our undergarments can trigger such reflections. They haven’t exactly exposed a new taboo with this photo series (as some would suggest), but they’ve got us thinking — and talking — again.