“I’m a man. I have a penis.” Tom Ford’s recent admission to the Times‘ Cathy Horyn came as no surprise to readers of international fashion magazines, where the penis—though not necessarily Tom Ford’s—is increasingly the focus of attention. As in the new Alexei Hay-photographed Gucci ads that prompted Ford’s remark, most of that focus is suggestive rather than literal. What Horyn calls a “candid” display is nothing new to close observers of late-’70s British rock stars, but it’s way more than other advertisers would dare: the clear outline of a male member jutting across a model’s snug Gucci pants. Other ads (like Steven Meisel’s shot of an unbuttoned Versace jeans model) and even more editorial photos (like Karl Lagerfeld’s nearly nude accessories spread in the Summer issue of V) are more modest, making do with an indiscreet glimpse of pubic hair, much less startling at a time when young men with pants riding just above their genitals are on the covers of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.
There’s another pubic flash on Steven Klein’s cover for the May/June Dutch, but much more meat inside. Over the course of 24 pages, Klein photographs a beefy drugstore cowboy (Texas porn star Anthony Cox) in and out of various branded jeans. Klein, who’s already set new precedents for male nudity in fashion mags with raunchy spreads featuring Brad Pitt (in W) and Mark Vanderloo (Arena Homme Plus), flirts with softcore porn here. Cox reaches into his pants or teases us with a hard-on under bedsheets, then delivers the goods in two full-frontal nude shots that the Gucci model can’t begin to measure up to. After this, Jane‘s August beefcake issue looks like innocence itself—as long as your idea of innocence includes sun-splashed Jack Pierson photos of Scott Weiland nude at the piano and Antonio Sabáto Jr., in red YSL briefs, spread out like Sunday dinner, that is.