Balenciaga is known for its unconventional campaigns and runway presentations. Earlier this month, the French luxury fashion brand shocked the world when it rolled out shocking ads for its spring 2023 collection and holiday campaign. The photos depicted children gripping teddy bears clad in S&M gear, and they quickly started going viral. The BDSM accessories were also on the runway at Balenciaga’s show at Paris Fashion Week.
The backlash against the images has been swift, with the hashtag #cancelBalenciaga trending across Twitter and TikTok. Many accuse the brand and its creative director, Demna, of condoning pedophilia and child exploitation. Celebrities such as Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian also received some heat as friends of the brand.
In a statement posted on his personal Instagram account on Friday, Dec. 2, the 41-year-old fashion designer said: “I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids, and I take my responsibility. It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them. As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse, that I condemn. Period.” His apology comes four days after the ads were pulled, and a statement was released on Balenciaga’s official social media account. The statement stated that the French fashion house “strongly condemns child abuse” and did not intend to “include it in our narrative.”
Balenciaga x Adidas
In a separate ad that dropped on November 21, promoting Balenciaga’s spring/summer 2023 collection, a bag from the fashion house’s collaboration with Adidas was photographed atop copies of what appear to be documents from the Supreme Court. In the case of United States v. Williams, a ruling upheld the PROTECT Act, which increased federal protections against child pornography. Both campaigns quickly became conservative talking points and sparked conspiracy theories.
Galimberti distances himself from the campaign
The company also filed a $25 million lawsuit against set designer Nicholas Des Jardin and North Six. This is the production company that handled the campaign that included the disturbing teddy bear props. The photographer responsible for capturing the images has reportedly cleared his Instagram after receiving hate mail and messages. Balenciaga photographer Galimberti has distanced himself from the campaign. He released a statement saying that he is not responsible for whatever has transpired during this campaign. The Italian photographer says he did not choose the models or the items being modeled by the kids for this ad photoshoot.
TikTokers have been creating videos of themselves “getting rid” of their Balenciaga items, but will the world really cancel Balenciaga? Let us know your thoughts on this scandal.
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