The fashion house’s new poster campaign in Paris has sparked uproar and a flood of complaints to the country’s advertising watchdog.
One of the posters shows a model in a leotard and stiletto roller skates bent over a stool.
A second image splashed across one of the posters shows a reclining woman in a fur coat and fishnet tights with her legs open.
France’s advertising watchdog - the Autorite de Regulation Professionnelle de la Publicite (ARPP) – received more than 50 complaints about the campaign saying that the images were “degrading to women” and even “incitement to rape”.
The fashion brand was asked to change the posters by the watchdog, which said the images were a “serious breach of rules set by the advertising industry to maintain dignity and respect in the representation of the person”.
The watchdog also raised concerns that the models featured in the ads were very thin and could impact on fashion-conscious teenage girls.
A leading group for women’s rights in France, Osez le feminisme (Dare to be Feminist), called for the campaign to be scrapped.
It said the subtext of the images was “extremely violent” and that the campaign ticked all the “sexist boxes”.
Stickers with the word “sexist” printed on them have been stuck onto the posters in protest across the city.
The advertising ethics jury, a body tied to the ARPP, will officially rule on the complaints on Friday and could ask Yves Saint Laurent to withdraw the ads completely.
An Yves Saint Laurent advert featuring a model with a visible ribcage and stick-thin legs was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in Britain in 2015.
Yves Saint Laurent has been approached for comment.