The month of November was when Balenciaga launched its festive advertisement featuring children holding Teddy bears in costume and bondage harnesses. (The BDSM accessories were also in the runway of Balenciaga’s runway show at Paris Fashion Week.) The backlash over the photos is rapid and the hashtag #cancelBalenciaga has been popular on Twitter along with TikTok and many accusing the brand as well as the creative director of it, Demna as a whole, for condoning the exploitation of children and pedophilia. In a different ad was released later in the month, bags that was part of the partnership with Adidas was photographed on top of what appeared to be legal documents taken from Supreme Court case United Statesv. Williams the ruling which confirmed the PROTECT Act that strengthened federal protections for pornography involving children. The campaigns quickly became an important popular topic for conservatives and also sparked speculation about conspiracy theories.
Since the time, right-wing conspiracy theorists have seized on and circulated images which were taken out of context Instagram. Instagram profile of the stylist Lotta Volkova, which depict images of violence and images of satanic imagery. According to the spokesperson, Volkova hasn’t worked with Balenciaga since the year 2017. In the meantime, Alexandra Gucci Zarini, a child rights advocate and the the heir of Gucci recently expressed her displeasure with Gucci’s ” HA HA HA” campaign that is believed to show Harry Styles posing with a child on a mattress. “My concerns are that there seems to be a common ideology across Kering’s Fashion Houses,” she wrote. (Both Balenciaga and Gucci are owned by Kering.)
Here’s the facts about the debate.
Balenciaga apologized for its advertisements featuring bears with teddy bears.
On November 22nd the fashion house released two public statements on its Instagram Stories, in which it apologized for the bears’ plush toys, which they claimed “should not have been featured with children in this campaign,” in addition to their “unsettling documents” in the separate spring-summer campaign “We are taking this issue seriously and have taken legal action against the people responsible for creating the collection as well as including non-approved items in our spring 23 photoshoot. We strongly oppose the abuse of children in all manner. We are committed to protecting children’s safety and wellbeing.” (As as of November 28, bears do not will be available on the site of the company.)
In the meantime, Gabriele Galimberti, the photographer behind the campaign for the holidays has issued an apology dissociating himself from the images. “I am not in a position to comment on Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same,” the photographer wrote. “As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style.”
Demna Later, the designer apologized on Instagram and took his responsibility for the ads that featured the bears in teddy bears “As as much as I occasionally want to stimulate thoughts by my works, I wouldn’t intend to do this with such a horrible topic as child abuse, which I condemn. Absolutely.” Designer assured that steps would be taken to “avoid similar errors from happening again” and ensure the safety of children. Demna didn’t seem to discuss the campaign showcasing Court documents within his speech.
In the meantime, Cedric Charbit, president and CEO of Balenciaga apologized for the social media campaigns in a post on the company’s Instagram. Charbit explained new internal processes that are in place, including the hiring of an outside agency for an external agency to “assess and evaluate” Balenciaga’s content, noting that the “current process for content validation has failed.” The company also stated that it would establish an account that will “help make a difference protecting children.”
Kim Kardashian condemned the ads.
In the last week of November Kim Kardashian — a prominent advocate for the brand that recently featured an appearance by Balenciaga’s Creative Director, Demna On their Hulu series, The Kardashians Kim Kardashian made an official statement in both Instagram as well as Twitter. “I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns,” she posted on Twitter. Her post went on to note that she’s currently reviewing her relationship with the brand “basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with.”
Julia Fox made her own series of comments in TikTok. “I have no connection with the company’s brand. I’ve never even attended any of their shows, and they’ve never invited me to any of their shows,” Fox said. “Regardless, I think it’s horrific, and when I was reading and watching all the videos I literally felt sick to my stomach.” Fox went on to state that this wasn’t the fault of Hollywood as a whole or even the industry of fashion, but something to do with “men.”
The fashion house has not been the last time Balenciaga has stirred controversy.
Balenciaga is well-known for its provocative events and campaigns, which include runway shows in which models are forced to walk through snow and mud wearing expensive, high-end clothes. In her report on the fashion house’s spring 2023 runway show, editor of the magazine Cut Cathy Horyn wrote, “Of late, Demna’s choices have been sometimes morally questionable.” Balenciaga has been a symbol of subversion, and even though an individual father who was one of the models in the campaign said to that the Daily Mail that he believed the campaign was “blown out of all proportion,” for many people the campaign strayed from provocative to damaging.
What’s so special about the possibility of a lawsuit?
The company filed a lawsuit in November. Balenciaga has filed an 25 million suit in the United States against North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins over the controversial campaign photo that included Court documents (which was not part of the images of the bears). The lawsuit stated that the defendants added in the Williamsdocuments “without Balenciaga’s knowledge or authorization” and further stated that because from this “defendant’s misconduct, members of the public, including the news media, have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject of the court decision.”
Some have criticized the suit as an attempt to Balenciaga to excuse itself from guilt. In the words of Des Jardins’s lawyer, Gabriela Moussaieff, her client was “being used as a scapegoat” by the fashion house. “Everyone from Balenciaga was on the shoot and was present on every shot and worked on the edit of every image in postproduction,” Moussaieff stated in the declaration to Washington Post in which she noted that the documents included in the images “were obtained from a prop house that were rental pieces used [for] photo shoots.” The suit was later dropped. been dismissed.
The aftermath of the campaign continues.
After the outrage over the advertisements, The Business of Fashion has withdrawn the 2022 Global Voices Award offer to Demna and noted that it has “the safety of children in the highest regard.”
In November of last year the street artist from London seemed to have graffitied the front of Balenciaga’s flagship store shop, ink-scribbling “paedophilia” on one of the windows, as reported by Newsweek. There was also reports of a shop located near it, the Beverly Hills shop on Rodeo Drive that was splattered with graffiti.
“I did it due to the abhorrent photoshoots Balenciaga did,” the designer told the magazine.