Last week, luxury fashion label Balenciaga apologized for an ad campaign featuring images of children holding bondage teddy bears with leather and fishnet clothes. The response to the ads was huge – and not in a good way. In fact, brand ambassador and huge celeb Kim Kardashian said she is "re-evaluating" her relationship with the fashion house over the campaign. The controversial ads have since been removed by Balenciaga from all platforms.
But now, Balenciaga is having issues with another ad campaign. It's suing production company North Six and set designer Des Jardins who brought its Spring 2023 campaign to life. In one of the images, you can see paperwork about a Supreme Court ruling on child pornography – not a good look and pretty terrible timing after the whole bondage teddy bears thing. The company said North Six included the documents in the campaign "without Balenciaga's knowledge or authorization." The brand is seeking at least US$25 million in damages as it believes the defendants' "inexplicable acts and omissions were malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless."
But, attorneys from Des Jardins argue that the documents were prop items and their team didn't have any responsibility for which final images were selected. North Six asserted that they had no control over the shoot, and they weren't even on set at the time.
"We apologize for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign. 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 Spring 23 campaign photoshoot," said luxury fashion brand Balenciaga. "We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being."
"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," said US celebrity Kim Kardashian on Twitter.
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 chose (sic) the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same ... as usual, the direction of the campaign and of the shooting are not on the hands of the photographer," said photographer Gabriele Galimberti to CNN.
"Moreover, representatives from Balenciaga were present at the shoot, overseeing it and handling papers and props, and Des Jardins as a set designer was not responsible for image selection from the shoot," said Amelia K. Brankov, an attorney for Nicholas Des Jardins and his company, in an emailed statement to CNN.