This ad for Gaultier, featuring bare-chested, tattooed models with tattoo-like illustrations around them, and a clearly visible penis through denim, is reminiscent of the erotically charged, fetishized illustrations by Tom of Finland.
The Gaultier brand entered the gay market as far back as 1994, and has featured this racy imagery of a pierced, tattooed, shirtless man and woman, along with the popular image of sailors.
Kory Marchisotto, marketing manager for Jean Paul Gaultier perfumes at Beaute Prestige International USA, New York, says that the gay market is "very important for (Gaultier) as a gay man and he supports it. He wants to portray who he is -- he's not afraid of his sexuality and it comes out in all of his work."
In early 2001, sailor-crazy Jean Paul Gaultier offered a rare phenomenon -- a cross-dressing woman – in his first TV advertising in the U.S. since 1997.
Gaultier is one of few openly gay fashion designers. Often closeted, or keeping their sexuality as an open secret, such designers prefer ambiguous sexual ad imagery and rarely dare to have overtly gay advertising.
Previously, a handful of fashion print ads have employed same-sex couples, including those from openly gay Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana, as well as the Diesel and Banana Republic brands.