Balenciaga apologizes for bear bondage ads and child abuse papers

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga has apologized for ads showing children holding teddy bears in bondage clothing and others holding child sexual abuse law documents in support.

The brand has admitted “a number of serious mistakes for which Balenciaga takes responsibility” over the now-withdrawn campaigns, which have sparked furious criticism online and a $25m (£21m) lawsuit against the team behind one of the campaigns. they.

The Business of Fashion website rescinded its Global Award as it was presented to the brand’s creative director, Demna, at his annual gala dinner on Thursday, describing the images as “totally 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 last name, has been voted Designer of the Year. The awards are decided by a secret vote of 1,000 members around the world, and the voting was concluded before the scandal broke.

The backlash concerns two separate ad campaigns. One concerns the Garde Robe photo shoot, in which actresses Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert posed in their Manhattan offices. Wide-eyed onlookers spotted documents on a desk under a £2,800 handbag from a US supreme court case questioning whether child sexual abuse imagery legislation restricts free speech rights.

Balenciaga said that all the elements of the shoot “were provided by third parties who confirmed in writing that these props were false office documents. They turned out to be real legal documents that probably came from the filming of a TV drama.”

In the background of another shot is a coffee table book of the work of artist Michaël Borremans, whose “Fire of the Sun” paintings include images of naked young children engaging in what gallery owner David Zwirner describes as “playful but mysterious acts with sinister connotations. .

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

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