The Balenciaga ad scandal

The famous fashion label Balenciaga has been receiving a lot of backlash due to their most recent holiday ad campaign, which featured children holding teddy bears and a court document concerning child pornography. 

This campaign dropped on Nov. 21 and was promoting the spring/summer of 2023 collection and a bag from the fashion house’s collaboration with Adidas was photographed. 

The photo was taken on top of copies of what seems to be documents from the Supreme Court Case, United States v. Williams. This case increased federal protections against child pornography. 

The day after the campaign dropped, Balenciaga put out a statement apologizing for using the teddy bears and the unsettling documents there. 

The fashion house then proceeded to state, “We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our 23 campaign photoshoot. We strongly condemn the abuse of children in any form. We stand for children’s safety and well-being.” 

There was also a statement from the photographer who took those photos, Gabriele Galimberti. 

“I am not in any position to comment on Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose the products, nor the models,” he wrote. “As a photographer, I have solely requested to (light) the given scene and take shots according to my signature style.”

Kim Kardashian, one of Balenciaga’s most prominent supporters, later made a statement on Twitter in response to the campaign. 

“I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns, but because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened,” the tweet read. 

She concluded the thread, stating “As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with — & the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children.”

On Nov. 25, Balenciaga filed a $25 million lawsuit against North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins over the controversial image featuring court documents, which was separate from the teddy bear imagery. 

This lawsuit claims that the defendants included the Williams documents “without the authorization or knowledge of Balenciaga.”

It goes on to say that as a result of the “defendant’s misconduct, members of the public, including the news media, have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject of the court decision.”

Balenciaga has been taking many precautions after this situation and the case will continue to be updated until there is a final ruling.

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