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Balenciaga apologises for ads featuring bondage bears and child abuse papers | Balenciaga | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating


The luxury fashion house Balenciaga has apologised over adverts that showed children holding teddy bears in bondage gear and others featuring documents about child sexual abuse law as a prop.

The brand admitted “a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility” over the now withdrawn campaigns, which have prompted furious criticism online and a $25m (£21m) lawsuit against the team behind one of them.

The Business of Fashion website has rescinded its Global Award due to have been presented to the label’s creative director, Demna, at its annual gala dinner on Thursday, describing the images as “wholly inconsistent with our values”. The site reported that its invitation to Balenciaga to attend and offer an explanation was declined.

On Monday, all eyes in the industry will be on the Fashion Awards at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where Demna, who does not use his surname, has been tipped to win Designer of the Year. The awards are decided by a secret ballot of 1,000 members worldwide, and voting concluded before the scandal broke.

The backlash concerns two separate ad campaigns. One concerns the Garde Robe photoshoot, in which actors Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert posed in Manhattan offices. Keen-eyed viewers spotted paperwork on a desk under a £2,800 handbag from a US supreme court case interrogating whether child sexual abuse imagery legislation curtails freedom of speech rights.

Balenciaga said all the items in the shoot “were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents. They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama.”

In the background of another shot is a coffee table book of the work of artist Michaël Borremans, whose “Fire from the Sun” paintings include images of naked toddlers engaged in what the gallerist David Zwirner describes as “playful but mysterious acts with sinister overtones”.

The company is now suing Nicholas Des Jardins and North Six, the designer and producers of the shoot respectively, alleging “inexplicable acts and omissions” that were “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless”.

The fashion house, which boasted annual sales of £15bn in 2021, said it takes “full accountability for our lack of oversight” and “are closely revising our organisation and collective ways of working”.

That row followed a backlash to its “Gift Shop” campaign: a series of portraits of children by Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti. It included girls holding handbags in the form of plush bears wearing mesh vests and bondage harnesses, which first appeared in the brand’s Spring 2023 catwalk show. The juxtaposition of children with BDSM paraphernalia was widely criticised and Balenciaga swiftly apologised for “a wrong choice”.

One of the handbags in the form of a teddy bear in bondage gear from Balenciaga’s summer 2023 collection
One of the handbags in the form of a teddy bear in bondage gear from Balenciaga’s summer 2023 collection Photograph: Balenciaga

Galimberti told Newsweek that he “was not entitled … [to] choose the products”, and Balenciaga have taken full responsibility for a poor taste decision and the ensuing offence. Galimberti had no involvement in the Garde Robe campaign, while neither Nicholas Des Jardins nor North Six worked on the Gift Shop images.

Brand ambassador Kim Kardashian, who modelled in July’s haute couture catwalk show in Paris, is “re-evaluating” her relationship with the house. “As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images,” she tweeted, although she stopped short of direct criticism of Demna or Balenciaga.

Demna has built an empire on cultural provocation, finding a huge audience for controversial fashion week stunts. This year, Balenciaga has made headlines for a show held during at the peak of the Ukrainian refugee crisis in which models battled a fake snowstorm carrying bin bags stuffed with belongings; for featuring an incognito Kanye West on their catwalk and then taking weeks to cut ties with the rapper after he wore a White Lives Matter sweatshirt; and for selling dirty, worn-out trainers for £645 during a cost of living crisis.

The furore over its adverts comes at a significant moment for Balenciaga’s owners, Kering, who also own Gucci. After the sudden departure of Gucci designer Alessandro Michele a week ago, Kering will now decide whether to copy the approach of rival luxury goods group Hermes, and shore up Italy’s glitziest name as a dependable, blue-chip luxury company, or to roll the dice on a maverick designer with a radical point of view and reap the rewards of publicity. How Balenciaga weathers this storm may influence their decision.

Balenciaga said in its latest apology on Instagram: “We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative … Balenciaga reiterates its sincere apologies for the offence we have caused.”



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