Nude poster makes splash

Cathy Hogan (left) and her daughter Alyssa of Chapel Hill, N.C., pass by the Tom Ford poster displayed Wednesday in the storefront window of Cos Bar, a cosmetics and fragrance shop in downtown Charleston. The mother and her 17-year-old daughter had different opinions about the poster. “I think he has nice buttocks,” the mother said. “I didn’t look at the the girl. I was totally focused on him.” Her daughter added, “It was a little weird. I’m not used to seeing naked people in a window.”

Ready or not, Charleston, there are nude posters on King Street.

Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino national ad campaign includes a naked man and woman, viewed from the side, pouring bottles of body splash on each other in the shower. The man is pouring a stream on the woman’s head. The woman is splashing the man’s groin.

Pretty suggestive.

The Estee Lauder campaign was unveiled in Charleston about two weeks ago. Two posters are in a window of Cos Bar at 201 King St. Local reaction has been mixed.

“Kind of a Times Square approach,” observed Susan Lucas, who coordinates the monthly 2nd Sunday on King Street, which is designed to draw visitors to downtown shops.

Lucas said a woman who was at the last 2nd Sunday event complained to the mayor’s office that the posters were not appropriate for downtown family events.

City spokeswoman Barbara Vaughn confirmed that the city got one complaint. The woman did not identify herself but said she was offended because her grandchildren were with her.

Several city staff members, including a couple attorneys, visited the site Wednesday to see the posters for themselves. The posters are not breaking any ordinances, so there’s nothing the city can legally do, Vaughn said.

However, a staff member will contact the store and “encourage them to consider what’s in their window and continue to keep King Street a family-friendly street,” she said. Staffers at the luxury cosmetics store said they had not heard any complaints about the posters, but their corporate policy did not allow them to talk to the media on the record.

A request for comment from Estee Lauder did not get a response Wednesday.

The posters are part of a monthlong local campaign and are scheduled to come down a week from Friday. Out of the dozens of people who walked by the posters during a two-hour period Wednesday, only one downtown hotel worker who declined to give her name said she thought they were inappropriate. Two young women said they were “kind of weird.”

Everybody else who noticed the posters at all said they had no problem with them. “My only reaction is that I’m jealous I don’t look like that,” said Marsha Barley, a teacher from Winchester, Va.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5555 or