New Delhi: Balenciaga, a high-end French clothing and accessories company, has recently come under fire and sparked a significant controversy with its “sexualized” advertising campaign that featured children. The brand recently issued an apology for two of its ad campaigns, and even sued the makers of one. It has also filed a $25 million damages lawsuit against set designer Nicolas Des Jardins and production company North Six.
According to the filing, Balenciaga alleges that North Six and Des Jardins included the photos in court documents without consulting the brand, which was “malicious or at least extraordinarily negligent.”
Amid the backlash, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who is known to be a fan of Balenciaga, has said she is re-evaluating her relationship with the brand after being stunned by the pictures.
In a statement released on Monday, Kardashian, who formerly served as an ambassador for Balenciaga, said “as a mother of four, I am shaken by the disturbing images”. This has come after several days of silence.
She continued, “The safety of children must be held in the highest regard and any attempt to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society.”
I’ve been quiet the past few days, not because I’m not disappointed and annoyed by the recent Balenciaga campaigns, but because I wanted the opportunity to talk to their team to see for myself how this came about.
— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) November 27, 2022
Talking about her future with the brand, she said, “Regarding my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, considering their willingness to accept accountability for something that based on that, which should never have started – and the actions I expect them to take to protect the children.”
The two ad campaigns in dispute were Balenciaga’s Christmas 2022 and Spring 2023 ads, both of which were captured by photographer Gabriele Galimberti. The advertising campaign for Christmas featured teddy bears dressed in S&M-style leather outfits. They were actually plush handbags in the shape of teddy bears that Balenciaga sells. Although visually reminiscent of S&M clothing, the leather straps actually function as bag straps.
Child models were chosen for the campaign posing in BDSM and bondage gear, holding teddy bears. In one of the images posted on the company’s website, a child can be seen next to a purse, which contained Supreme Court records from the Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition case, which fought to keep virtual child pornography outlaws. went.
There was also another photo of a child lying on a couch next to a glass of wine, with gear tied around it.
In response to the controversy, celebrities severed ties with Balenciaga after their images from the brand’s advertising campaign went viral on social media.
Celebs including Kim Kardashian, Olly London, and Alexandra Hook strongly protested the Balenciaga photoshoot because it promoted pedophilia, child pornography, and the sexual exploitation of minors.
Kanye West, Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband and former Balenciaga collaborator, has come under fire for the industry’s lack of response to the scandal.
Balenciaga issued a public apology and pulled photos from its advertising campaign in response to the significant outcry. Additionally, he stated that he intends to file a lawsuit against the planning and design teams of the advertising campaign.
In its apology, Balenciaga wrote, “The campaign for spring 2023, which was meant to replicate the atmosphere of a business office, included a photo with a page from the Supreme Court ruling ‘United States v. Williams’ 2008″ in the background , which confirms as such the promotion of child pornography is illegal and not protected by freedom of expression.”
The luxury brand further added, “We take full accountability for the lack of inspection and control of the documents in the background, and we could have done things differently.”
After the brand issued an apology, Kardashian said, “I appreciate the removal of the campaigns and the apology by Balenciaga. In speaking with them, I am confident that they understand the seriousness of the issue and will make sure this does not happen again.” Will take necessary measures.” ,
Photographer Gabriel’s response:
Photographer Gabriel also explained his stance on the matter with a statement he released on Instagram. He said, “Following the hundreds of hate mail and messages I have received as a result of photographs I took for the Balenciaga campaign, I feel compelled to make this statement. I am not in a position to comment on Balenciaga’s choice, But I must stress that I was in no way entitled to choose the products, nor the models, nor their combinations.”
He further added, “As a photographer, I was only requested to illuminate the given scene, and capture shots in my signature style. As always for commercial shoots, the direction of the campaign and The choice of objects displayed is not in the hands of the photographer. […] Also, I have nothing to do with the photo which has a Supreme Court document. It was taken by other people in a different set and wrongly linked with my pictures.”