The backlash surrounding Balenciaga’s recent ad campaigns involving children has remained strong as fans and celebrities continue to denounce the luxury brand.
The Spanish fashion house recently found itself embroiled in controversy over two recent ad campaigns. The first campaign, the designer’s gift collection campaign, was criticised for using children to model its teddy bear purses, after critics pointed out the bears appeared to be wearing BDSM and bondage-inspired accessories.
The second ad under scrutiny is Balenciaga’s Spring 2023 campaign, which featured a printout of a Supreme Court decision on child pornography and a book about Beligan artist Michaël Borremans, whose earlier work included depictions of castrated children.
In an attempt to address the fallout, Balenciaga has issued two statements regarding the since-removed campaigns. In the most recent, released on Monday, the brand said it “strongly condemned” child abuse while alleging it was never its intent to “include it in our narrative”.
Balenciaga also filed a lawsuit against the production company behind the Spring 2023 shoot.
The statements and legal complaint have done little to quell the intense reactions from the public over the ads, with many calling for a boycott of the luxury brand, while celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman have been called on to cut ties with Balenciaga.
Kardashian, a longtime ambassador of the brand, ultimately announced in a statement shared to social media that she would be “re-evaluating” her relationship with Balenciaga moving forward, while her sister Kylie Jenner appeared to distance herself from the brand when she dismissed speculation that she and her famous family were “covering up” for Balenciaga with “calculated” social media posts.
For all the latest updates regarding the ongoing Balenciaga scandal, follow along below.
Everything we know about the scandal so far
Balenciaga takes action against production company
Kim Kardashian reevaluating relationship with brand
Photographer distances himself from campaign
04:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Despite calls from fans, Nicole Kidman has not yet addressed the backlash over the campaigns, or her involvement in the Spring 2023 shoot.
On Instagram, where the actor has photos from the photoshoot displayed, fans have continued to criticise her silence.
“Where is your statement?” one person commented, while another said: “Why are you associated with this company? Expected better.”
03:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Additionally, Balenciaga said it would be working with organisations that specialise in child protection moving forward.
“We want to learn from our mistakes and identify ways we can contribute,” the company continued, before issuing another apology for “the offense we have caused”.
02:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
As Balenciaga attempts to make its way out of the controversy, the brand said it would be making a number of changes to the way it operates.
According to the luxury fashion house, one of the changes will be “closely revising” its organisation and “collective ways of working,” while another will include “reinforcing the structures around our creative processes and validation steps”.
“We want to ensure that new controls mark a pivot and will prevent this from happening again,” the statement added.
01:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
While the backlash over the campaign is recent, the Spring 2023 shoot was actually shot in July.
Photographer Joshua Bright captured the portrait images for the campaign, which meant he was tasked with photographing stars such as Nicole Kidman and Bella Hadid.
Chris Maggio captured the still-life images of accessories for the campaign, according to WWD, which notes that it was a photo of a Balenciaga/Adidas purse that included the Supreme Court documents pertaining to child pornography.
00:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
The explanation the set designer’s agent offered for the presence of Supreme Court documents pertaining to child pornography on the set was similar to the one shared by Balenciaga in a statement released on Monday.
In the statement, Balenciaga said the props “turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama”.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 23:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Amid the fallout over the brand’s Spring 2023 campaign, Balenciaga filed a lawsuit against production company North Six Inc, and its agent, Nicholas Des Jardins.
However, according to Des Jardins’s agent, Gabriela Moussaieff, who spoke to The Washington Post, the set designer is “being used as a scapegoat,” as he claimed that Balenciaga employees were present at the shoot in question.
“Everyone from Balenciaga was on the shoot and was present on every shot and worked on the edit of every image in post production,” Moussaieff told The Post, adding that the legal papers featured in the shoot were “were obtained from a prop house that were rental pieces used on film [and] photo shoots”.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 21:10 , Chelsea Ritschel
If you need a refresher on all the details about the Balenciaga scandal, you can find everything you need to know below.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 20:13 , Chelsea Ritschel
As for how she responded to the scandal, Kardashian said she would be “re-evaluting” her relationship with the brand moving forward.
“As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images,” she said in a social media statement. “The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalise child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society – period.”
You can read Kardashian’s statement in full below.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 19:54 , Chelsea Ritschel
Although Kim Kardashian has expressed her disapproval of the campaigns and addressed her ongoing relationship with Balenciaga, fans have continued to call on her to cut ties with the brand.
The pressure increased after Kardashian shared a series of random photos of her home to Instagram this week, with fans alledging the post was an attempt to draw attention away from the Balenciaga scandal, and her role as an ambassador for the brand.
“Fashion gate distraction,” one person wrote in the comments under the post, while another said: “Distraction and aversion at its finest!”
Wednesday 30 November 2022 18:27 , Chelsea Ritschel
While Business of Fashion will no longer honour Demna with the award, it noted in its statement that it has asked the “leadership at Balenciaga” to attend Voices to “take responsibility for releasing these images and offer an explanation”.
According to the fashion agency, Balenciaga declined the invitation. “They declined our invitation to speak at this time, but BoF remains open to having this important conversation,” the statement added.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 18:16 , Chelsea Ritschel
Amid the ongoing fallout over Balenciaga’s recent campaigns, the Business of Fashion announced it will no longer be honouring the brand’s creative director Demna with its Global Voices award for 2022.
The fashion authority announced that Demna would be the recipient of the award earlier this year, however, it said in a 28 November statement that the honour had been revoked in light of Balenciaga’s controversial campaigns.
“Since its inception BoF VOICES has been a platform for important, honest and sometimes uncomfortable conversations that have helped to address key issues in the fashion industry head on,” the statement read. “At BoF, we hold the safety of children in the highest regard.
“And, like many, we have been seeking the truth about how children appeared with BDSM-inspired products in Balenciaga’s recent campaign imaages, which are wholly inconsistent with our values.
“As a result, we will not be presenting Demna with the Global Voices award this year.”
Kylie Jenner dismisses speculation she shared children’s photos to ‘cover up’ for Balenciaga
Wednesday 30 November 2022 16:15 , Kate Ng
Kylie Jenner has hit back at accusations that she posted photos of her children to distract people from the Balenciaga conrtroversy.
The reality star shared rare pictures of her children, Stormi and her son whose name is unconfirmed, this week. But some social media users questioned her intentions amid the ongoing scandal and her sister Kim Kardashian’s close links to the luxury brand.
FInd out what she said below:
Demna Gvasalia said he ‘no longer’ has to think about ‘making the industry understand what I do'
Wednesday 30 November 2022 15:30 , Kate Ng
Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia said that the luxury brand is so popular that he does not feel the need to “make the industry understand what I do” in a podcast that was released several weeks before the current controversy.
The 41-year-old designer, who took over the fashion house in 2015, made the comments during an appearance on Intersections: The Art Basel podcast.
In the episode, released on 20 October, Demna said: “I no longer think about making the fashion industry understand what I do. I just do it. Whetehr I’m proud of it or not, it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t have anybody to convince or explain things to. The only people I need to have a conversation with are the people who wear what I do and who understand what I do. And who appreciate it.”
He continued: “Since I started couture at Balenciaga, finally I found a position in this industry which is uncontested. I can just chill out and do what I truly believe in without thinking about business or media or commands about what other people think. All of that just evaporated.”
Street artist leaves graffiti on Balenciaga’s Bond Street store
Wednesday 30 November 2022 14:46 , Kate Ng
A street artist has claimed he was responsible for graffiti left on the front of Balenciaga’s store on Bond Street.
Joe Bloggs, known by his artist name as The Average Man on the Street, told Newsweek he placed a vinyl sticker with the words “paedophilia” repeated twice on the glass display window of the store.
He was filmed by a TikTok user carrying out the defacement in a video captioned: “POV: you’re walking through central London enjoying the lights and see Balenciaga getting canceled.”
Bloggs told the publication he vandalised the store “due to the abhorrent photoshoots Balenciaga did”.
The Independent has contacted Balenciaga for comment.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 13:00 , Chelsea Ritschel
Kanye West also made his opinion regarding the brand clear on Sunday, when he covered a designer logo on his rain boots with a sticker that read: “YE24.”
The rapper’s latest statement comes after he called out celebrities for remaining silent in the wake of the scandal.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 10:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Amid the ongoing backlash, many former customers have begun destroying their Balenciaga possessions.
One woman filmed herself cutting up a Balenciaga hoodie that retails for approximately $720.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 07:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Donald Trump Jr is the latest figure to weigh in on the scandal, with the son of the former president alleging that there is “more outrage” over Elon Musk’s handling of Twitter than Balenciaga.
Fashion thrives on backlash
Wednesday 30 November 2022 06:52 , Kate Ng
As Balenciaga becomes the latest luxury label to become embroiled in controversy, Olivia Petter asks if big brands will ever learn from the errors of their ways.
Read about why the latest “child abuse” scandal won’t change the fact that the fashion industry thrives on backlash:
Wednesday 30 November 2022 05:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Renewed criticism over the campaign’s has focused largely on the inclusion of a book by Michaël Borremans.
In one photo from the brand’s Spring 2023 campaign, Isabelle Huppert sits in a Manhattan office in front of a pile of books.
However, as noted by critics of the ad, the Belgian artist’s earlier work included depictions of castrated children.
“There’s a book in one of Balenciaga‘s photos that’s written by Michaël Borremans, an artist who created “Fire from the Sun,” which is a series of paintings depicting naked toddlers,” one tweet reads.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 04:00 , Chelsea Ritschel
Balenciaga has disabled comments under its most recent statement addressing the fallout, however, fans have continued to condemn the brand on social media.
“Balenciaga is very much cancelled in my eyes, I don’t care what explanation they come up with. Don’t mess with children,” one person tweeted.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 02:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Balenciaga has followed up on its promise to take legal action regarding its Spring 2023 campaign, with the brand filing a lawsuit against production company North Six Inc – and its agent, Nicholas Des Jardins.
In the complaint, the luxury fashion house accuses the defendants of engaging in “inexplicable acts and omissions” that were “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless”.
Balenciaga is seeking $25m in monetary damages.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 01:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
As for photographer Gabriele Galimberti’s role in creating the Balenciaga campaign featuring children posing with plush bears, Balenciaga said it was taking the blame.
“This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images,” the company wrote. “The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone.”
The clarification comes after Balenciaga apologised for the campaign last week. “We sincerely apologise for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused,” the statement said “Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.”
Following the statement, the National Geographic photographer issued a statement of his own, in which he said he was “not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose [sic] the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same”.
You can read Galimberti’s statement in full below.
Wednesday 30 November 2022 00:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
As of now, the photographers behind Balenciaga’s Spring 2023 campaign have yet to comment on the backlash.
The photoshoot, which starred Bella Hadid, Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert, was shot by Joshua Bright, while photographer Chris Maggio captured the still-life images of accessories, according to WWD.
The campaign sparked backlash over the inclusion of court documents relating to a Supreme Court decision on child pornography, and for featuring a book by a Belgian artist whose earlier work included depictions of castrated children.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 23:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Jenner’s response comes as many fans have called on celebrities to publicly denounce the brand, while some have suggested that Kim Kardashian should have cut ties with the company over the scandal.
Candace Owens was among those criticising the Skims founder’s response as not being strong enough, with the conservative commentator claiming the reality star should have decided she was “done with Balenciaga”.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 22:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Kylie Jenner has shut down a TikToker’s claim that she posted family photos to distract from the Balenciaga scandal after the Kylie Cosmetics star shared never-before-seen pictures of her and Travis Scott’s nine-month-old son.
Jenner denied the accusation in a TikTok comment, writing: “Uh whyyy would I post my child to cover up for Balenciaga?This is why I don’t do this. Always something to say.”
Tuesday 29 November 2022 21:22 , Chelsea Ritschel
In a statement released on Monday, Balenciaga said it “takes responsibility” for the “series of grievous errors” that led to the two campaigns being published and said the coompany would be “closely revising our organisation and collective ways of working” in light of the fallout.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 19:15 , Chelsea Ritschel
While celebrities and notable figures have spoken out against Balenciaga in light of the controverisal campaigns, not everyone who works with the brand has denounced the luxury designer.
Nicole Kidman, who features in the brand’s Spring 2023 campaign, has remained silent amid the backlash, prompting fans to call on her to denounce Balenciaga.
You can read more about the reactions below.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 18:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Galimberti, who has 20 years of experience as a documentary photographer, is also afraid of the impact the backlash will have on his career, as he estimates that he’s already lost $10,000 in wages since the Balenciaga controversy, according to WWD.
The Balenciaga shoot marked his first assignment in the fashion industry.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 18:00 , Chelsea Ritschel
In the same interview with WWD, the Milan-based National Geographic photographer said he has been blamed for the controversy, and that he has been inundated with messages from people furious over his involvement.
According to Galimberti, who said he is concerned about his personal safety, “90 per cent” of the messages have come from individuals in the US. “Luckily, I live in Italy and not in the States,” he said, adding that he has received messages referring to him as a “sick pervert”.
While Galimberti shot the Gift Collection campaign featuring children posing with Balenciaga bears dressed in BDSM-inspired accessories, he was not invovled with the Spring 2023 campaign, which was shot by Joshua Bright, while the accessory images for the campaign were photographed by Chris Maggio.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 17:28 , Chelsea Ritschel
Photographer Gabriele Galimberti, who shot the Gift Collection campaign featuring children posing with plush toy bears, has also criticised the brand, as he claims that Balenciaga waited too long to clarify that the campaign was separate from the one which had included Supreme Court documents pertaining to child pornography.
“It was two different campaigns, two different photographers. The Supreme Court documents were not in the campaign with the children,” Galimberti said in an interview with WWD on Monday.