Harry Styles and Gucci are being slammed for an ad campaign in which Styles poses in a teddy-bear t-shirt next to a toddler bed, just a few weeks after its sister brand Balenciaga (they are owned by the Kering group) was embroiled in a child imagery scandal. The “Watermelon Sugar” singer appears in Gucci’s new “HA HA HA” campaign caressing and carrying the toddler mattress. In an accompanying video, he is seen dressing and undressing, hugging furniture to a freakish baby mobile-like chime.
The campaign was conceptualized by former Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, who has since left the brand, per Daily Mail. “Play is at the very heart of the Gucci HA HA HA collection, which uses menswear as a tool of the avant-garde,” Gucci’s website describes. “The series of images sees Harry Styles showcase the ‘dream wardrobe’ defined by the eccentric use of romantic accents, whimsical prints, vintage details, and the expressive emotionality of the individual.”
Posting to Instagram, Gucci called the collection a “performance piece” by Styles. Pretty much all of the comments did not think so. Alexandra Zarini, whose great-grandfather founded the Gucci brand criticized the campaign. She said, “Why would you create a “performance piece’ with a toddler’s mattress and an adult man? My concerns are that there seems to be a common ideology across Kering’s Fashion Houses.” Zarini runs The Alexandra Gucci Children’s Foundation, which combats child sexual abuse.
One person commented, “Why is a toddler bed in this? Why the Teddy bear shirt? What is the angle? Aside from strange?” Another wrote: “That’s cute after the ballenciaga scandal, the line is called haha and you’re posed next to a twin sized mattress? U people for real right now?!” Another person said: “Toddler mattress and grown man – what story are they selling ?” Meanwhile, another questioned, “Why is it so difficult to stay away from kids?” Chimed in another, “Why a baby mattress, pink bear, And masonic floor? Leave the children out of your sick plot!”