A British watchdog agency criticized Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana on Wednesday for ads that showed models aggressively brandishing knives.
The Advertising Standards Authority said the company acted irresponsibly and breached standards of good taste in publishing the ads, which showed male models waving knives while surrounded by glamorous women models, in poses inspired by the paintings of French romantic artist Eugene Delacroix. One man was shown lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head.
There was no immediate comment from Milan-based Dolce & Gabbana.
The ruling amounts to a slap on the wrist and doesn't ban the ads.
The independent authority, which regulates the industry, issued the report after 166 people complained that two ads, which appeared in The Times and Daily Telegraph last October, glorified knife and gun crime.
It upheld complaints that Dolce & Gabbana had shirked its social responsibility and breached standards of decency. But it dismissed a complaint that the ads would encourage people to harm themselves.
One of the ads in The Times appeared opposite a story about knife crime; the authority said this was likely to cause serious offense.
Dolce & Gabbana says the ads were printed around the globe but the only complaints had come from people in Britain. The company argues the ads were "highly stylized and intended to be an iconic representation of the Napoleonic period of art."
Dee Edwards, a founding member of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression and one of those who complained, said she hoped the ruling would send a message to other advertisers.
"These adverts were at best distasteful and at worst dangerous," she said.
The Advertising Standards Authority noted that while the ads were highly stylized, "the knives were brandished aggressively and the image of a man lying on the ground with a wound to his forehead added to the overall impression of violence."
"We considered that the ad could be seen as condoning and glorifying knife-related violence and concluded that it was irresponsible."