Balenciaga creative director Demna apologises over ad campaign

Balenciaga creative director Demna apologises over ad campaign
(Getty Images)

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 found itself embroiled in controversy over two ad campaigns – one with a child model holding a “BDSM teddy bear” and another featuring a Supreme Court decision on child pornography and a book about Belgian artist Michaël Borremans.

Addressing the fallout, Balenciaga “strongly condemned” child abuse and said it never intended to “include it in our narrative”.

Creative director Demna has also apologised for the brand’s “wrong artistic choice,” while president and CEO Cédric Charbit apologised “for the offense” the campaign caused.

The remarks did little to quell outrage, with many calling for a boycott of the luxury brand and for celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman to cut ties.

Kardashian, a longtime brand ambassador, ultimately announced she would be “re-evaluating” the relationship, while her sister Kylie Jenner appeared to distance herself by dismissing speculation that she and her famous family were “covering up” for Balenciaga.

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.

Chelsea Ritschel30 November 2022 18:27

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!”

Chelsea Ritschel30 November 2022 19:54

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.

Chelsea Ritschel30 November 2022 20:13

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”.

Chelsea Ritschel30 November 2022 23:30

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”.

Chelsea Ritschel1 December 2022 00:30

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.

Chelsea Ritschel1 December 2022 01:30

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.

Chelsea Ritschel1 December 2022 02:30

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”.

Chelsea Ritschel1 December 2022 03:30

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.”

Chelsea Ritschel1 December 2022 04:30

Kylie Jenner shut down claims that she attempted to distract from the Balenciaga scandal with new photos of her family in a comment posted to TikTok.

“Uh why would I post my child to cover up for Balenciaga? This is why I don’t do this. Always something to say,” the reality star wrote.

Chelsea Ritschel1 December 2022 06:30