Balenciaga Creative Director Demna Apologizes for Controversial Ad Campaign

Balenciaga’s creative director Demna on Friday came out with a personal statement apologizing for a recent ad campaign from the fashion brand.

The controversial gift collection campaign featured images of children holding the French label’s viral teddy bear bags dressed in what appeared to be leather bondage gear.

“I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility,” the designer wrote in an Instagram post. “It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them.”

He added that he needs to “learn from this” to understand how to better protect children.

Kim Kardashian, a current brand ambassador and friend of Balenciaga, also released a statement on Sunday and said she is “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand.

“As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images. The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period,” she wrote.

Balenciaga pulled the campaigns and apologized in a statement on Instagram on Nov. 22.

“We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms,” the brand stated.

The controversial holiday campaign was shot by Gabriele Galimberti, a National Geographic photographer whose Instagram page highlights a 10-year project called “Toy Stories,” featuring images of children photographed with their favorite toys.

Galimberti issued his own statement on Instagram after the inappropriate ads were pulled by the fashion house. “Following the hundreds of hate mails and messages I received as a result of the photos I took for the Balenciaga campaign, I feel compelled to make this statement,” Galimberti wrote. “I am not in a position to comment [on] Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither choose the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.”

Another controversial campaign for Spring 2023 featured a Balenciaga x Adidas Hourglass bag laid across documents relating to the 2008 United States v. Williams Supreme Court decision regarding child pornography laws. This campaign, which also drew criticism, prompted Balenciaga to file a lawsuit against North Six Inc., the production company that created it, and its agent and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins.

However, Balenciaga on Friday said it decided not to pursue litigation. The brand initially sought $25 million in “extensive damages” that it said the campaign caused the luxury fashion house.

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