Balenciaga Says Sorry for Those Children with Bondage Bears in New Ads

Meanwhile, Balenciaga ally Kim Kardashian is ”currently re-evaluating” their relationship following the S&M tot photo spread
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French luxury fashion house Balenciaga has issued an apology for two ad campaigns featuring photos that mixed fetishism, bondage, furries and children, and made pretty much everyone who saw them sick to their stomachs.

Oops?

The first of these, an ad campaign for the fashion freaks’ “Gift” collection involved little girls standing on furniture holding Balenziaga’s teddy bear bags. So cute. Except the bear-bags were decked in leather gear and other rough-play accoutrement, and the area around the  erotic ursine adventurers was replete with even more with BDSM props, such as chains.

The other campaign, for Spring 2023, also had overtones of child pornography—in the form of legal papers sitting on a desk in an ad for the company’s “Hourglass” handbag, which retails for thousands. Unfortunately, again, one of those docs was the 2008 United States v. Williams decision, in which the Supreme Court found that a prohibition on the “pandering” of such material does not violate the First Amendment.

That’s quite a bunch to be sorry for, and the fashionistas offered up their best effort in a statement Monday, first shared by Washington Post critic-at-large Robin Givhan.

“We would like to address the controversies surrounding our recent ad campaigns,” it begins. “We strongly condemn child abuse. It was never our intent to include it in our narrative. The two separate ad campaigns in questions reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.”

As for the campaign that “featured children with plush bear bags in what some have labelled BDSM outfits,” Balenciaga said, “our plush bear bags… should not have been featured with children. This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone.

The explanation for other campaign was more opaque.

The setting “was meant to replicate a business office environment” with random office-type papers in the background. Unfortunately, as the company admits, the one in the photo, the Williams decision—”confirms as illegal and not protected by free speech the promotion of child pornography.”

Balenciaga further explained that all of the other papers shot that day were supposed to be “fake office documents” but “turned out to be real legal papers… The inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaga has filed a complaint against [the third party who supplied them with the papers]. We take full accountability for our lack of oversight.”

While “internal and external investigations are ongoing,” Balenciaga says it is taking a number of actions, from “closely revising our organization and collective ways of working” to “reinforcing the structures around our creative processes and validation steps.” Finally, the fashion house plans on “laying the groundwork” with organizations that “specialize in child protection and aim at ending abuse.”

The statement concludes: “We want to learn from our mistakes and identify ways we can contribute.”

Last week, Balenciaga  said it would not sue the photographer, Gabriele Galimberti, who shot the images for the bondage teddy bear campaign, according to The Daily Mail. However, it did file a $25 million lawsuit against the production company for its bizarre Spring 2023 ad campaign, according the Washington Post reports.

If all this wasn’t devastating enough, Balenziaga may have lost biggest and most visible fan, Kim Kardashian, who expressed her dismay Sunday after seeing the teddy bear sex spreads.

“I have been quiet for the past few days,” she tweeted, “not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged 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. 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.”

Kardashian says she is “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.”

Kardashian has worn Balenciaga regularly, both for major events in her life, like the Met Gala, and on a day-to-day basis.


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