The French will see our alarm over inappropriate photos of 10-year-old model Thylane Blondeau and raise us a line of lingerie for girls ages four through 12, and the accompanying images styled to look like a sensual bedroom romp.
According to Jours Après Lunes' website, it's "the first designer brand dedicated to ‘loungerie' for children and teenagers, comprised of loungewear and lingerie to be worn over and under, inside and outside." The line was created by Sophie Morin, a designer who's worked for major adult lingerie brands, and adapts elements of adult undies like ribbons, lace, frills, but "always with the utmost respect for comfort" — if not age appropriateness.
The problem here is more the way the girls were photographed than the items themselves. The line for babies ages three months to 36 months consists of adorable retro/nautical onesies, and there's nothing unusual about their poses (possibly because infants lack the motor skills necessary to make SexyFace).
The trouble starts when you move on to the "fille" section. You may question why a five-year-old needs a matching bra and panty set, but you could probably find girls in a similar striped black and white bikini on any beach. The bigger issue is that, as Fashionista puts it, the girls, "are styled like grown women with Amy Winehouse hair, sunglasses and pearls and there are a few instances of Thylane Blondeau-esque seductive gazing and reclining poses." A girl lays back in a knotted top that would fall just below her breasts if she had any, and another is caught applying a Toddlers & Tiaras-worthy amount of makeup while lounging in her underwear.
Things get even worse with the teen garments. Apparently there wasn't enough girl/woman dichotomy in showing a model who looks about 13 in a frilly bra and panty set, so the girl gets a tousled, Bridget Bardot-style hairdo and a giant teddy bear to cling to. (However, we can't criticize this shot of the same model hanging out with her sister sans pants because she's reading Kafka. They're just trying to promote teen literacy!)
As we mentioned earlier, it feels wrong to even identify shots featuring such young models as "sexy," but it's obvious that the adults who produced these images intentionally inserted elements that would read as sexual for adult models. Plus, while there's a "playing dress up" element to some of these pictures, we're taking about ads for kiddie lingerie, not an artsy Vogue spread that seems to reference the fashion industry's fraught relationship with young models.
Maybe it's unwise to throw stones at the French brand when pretty much every mall in America has a Victoria's Secret Pink outpost selling lingerie to teens (oh, sorry — college students, because the brand is definitely aimed at 18 to 24-year-olds). But we will say that whether it comes from France or the U.S., the last thing we need is more images that sexualize young girls.