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FKA Twigs’ Partially Nude Calvin Klein Ads Ruled ‘Not Sexually Explicit’ by U.K. Advertising Standards Authority

LONDON — The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority has backtracked on a decision it made two months ago regarding a Calvin Klein underwear ad from 2023 featuring the singer FKA Twigs.

The ASA had originally said the ad, which appeared last April as part of a wider poster campaign that also featured Kendall Jenner, objectified the singer and “must not appear again in the form complained of.”

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On Wednesday, the self-regulatory organization of the advertising industry, published an updated ruling saying that while viewers’ attention might be drawn to the model’s body, the images were “not sexually explicit.”

The ASA added that “the ad presented a woman who appeared to be confident and in control,” and asked Calvin Klein Inc. to ensure that future ads were targeted to appropriate audiences.

WWD has reached out to Calvin Klein and FKA Twigs for comment.

As reported on Jan. 10, the ASA said it had received two complaints specifically about images of FKA Twigs, a British singer, songwriter and dancer whose real name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett.

The watchdog had originally said the singer’s partial nudity “and facial expression, including a direct gaze and open mouth, gave the image an overall sexual overture. We therefore considered the ad overtly sexual and not suitable for display in an untargeted medium.”

In its original ruling, the ASA also told Calvin Klein Inc. “to ensure that future ads did not irresponsibly objectify women.”

For its part, Calvin Klein Inc. had argued the ads were similar to ones they had been publishing in the U.K. for many years.

It also said the ads did not overly sexualize the women, and were not irresponsible. “Both models had collaborated with Calvin Klein to produce the images and had approved them before publication,” Calvin Klein told the ASA.

At the time, FKA Twigs disagreed with the ruling, and set out her defense on Instagram.

“I see a beautiful, strong woman of color whose incredible body has overcome more pain than you can imagine,” she wrote.

“I am proud of my physicality and hold the art I create with my vessel to the standards of women like Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt and Grace Jones, who broke down barriers of what it looks like to be empowered, and harness a unique, embodied sensuality,” the singer added.

She also thanked Calvin Klein and the photographers Mert & Marcus for the campaign, adding: “I will not have my narrative changed.”

Despite its frequent finger-wagging, the ASA is a non-statutory organization and cannot interpret or enforce legislation in the U.K. Often, it rules on cases that have drawn a handful of complaints from members of the  public, as in the case of FKA Twigs.

Celebrities in Calvin Klein Ad Campaigns Through the Years, Photos

Brooke Shields raised eyebrows in Calvin Klein Jeans ads in 1980.
Brooke Shields raised eyebrows in Calvin Klein Jeans ads in 1980.
Mark wahlberg, then known as Marky Mark, posed for calvin klein underwear in 1992.
Mark wahlberg, then known as Marky Mark, posed for calvin klein underwear in 1992.
An image from Calvin Klein’s underwear campaign featuring Shawn Mendes.
An image from Calvin Klein’s underwear campaign featuring Shawn Mendes.

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Launch Gallery: Celebrities in Calvin Klein Ad Campaigns Through the Years, Photos

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