This is a first for Sisley, in an overtly gay male campaign, to feature women together. It was featured in Mx Racks, as giveaway postcard ads.
While most fashion brands use sexy models to sell their clothes, Benetton is known for its not-so-pretty, controversial advertising that depicts the likes of a frail man with AIDS and death row inmates. Though it has toyed with gay vague imagery before, Benetton has never directly dealt with gay themes - until Sisley.
The Italian clothing company's new brand is trying on envelope-pushing ads, one of which looks something like the beginning of a gay porn movie. This one includes two men walking hand-in-hand, one wearing a cartoon-like horse's head.
The other ad, which ran in OUT magazine, shows a shirtless young man reclined in bed as he pushes another guy's face toward his crotch (just a thin band of clothing remains).
And in coded reference to young males, known as "chicken," the ingredients for a Palm Springs Chicken Salad appears on the page with the boyish couple.
Unlike Benetton ads, Sisley's first gay media advertising is sexually charged and out of the closet.
"Sisley is a sexy brand, it's about sex and feeling sexy when you're wearing the product," says Benetton spokesman Mark Major. "There are not a lot of companies in OUT doing this." Despite the fashion industry's omnipresent use of sex to sell its merchandise - often "forgetting" to include the very clothing they're trying to sell - few have actually used overtly gay imagery. Designers including Calvin Klein, Gucci, Versace, Abercrombie & Fitch and even Benetton itself have only teased consumers with gay vague imagery.
In 1994, Benetton created an ad with two twenty-something men wearing pastel shirts in a cheek-to-cheek embrace that left many wondering...