Fashion storm: Balenciaga booed for a pedophile campaign

Lonely children, one standing on a bed, the other on a sofa, hug, staring blankly, something that looks like a teddy bear, but harnessed with straps adorned with metal studs in an end setting. drunken evening. Harnesses that clearly allude to BDSM codes and accessories used in sadomasochistic practices. This is what Balenciaga proposed – ironically – as a Christmas and end-of-year campaign, celebrations where children are traditionally pampered and adults cultivate the magical, peaceful and generous aspect.

Worse, to launch its Hourglass bag, produced in collaboration with Adidas, the luxury house immediately offered a parallel campaign, featuring stars like Isabelle Huppert or Nicole Kidman sitting at a New York desk on which are spread documents to initially illegible. By enlarging them, Internet users discovered that these prints referred to a 2008 US Supreme Court ruling in a child pornography case, arguing that it was not protected by freedom of expression. Chance ? Coincidence? Looking for even more visibility? The result is in any case a bad buzz for Balenciaga which has just interrupted a juicy collaboration with rapper Kanye West with whom his partner Adidas broke first, for anti-Semitic remarks.

world degradation
Faced with the outcry of Internet users massively relayed by the media, these campaigns which were to represent the climax of a year in which the brand has not ceased to be talked about, suddenly plunge Balenciaga into uncertainty. .

Actress Isabelle Huppert posing on a Balenciaga poster in New York. Photo taken from Instagram account @isabelle.huppert

Balenciaga, under the artistic direction of the Georgian Demna Gvasalia since 2015, multiplies the media blows. The Ikea shopping bag transformed into a must-have, that’s them. The luxury garbage bag is still them. The leather jumpsuit with integrated hood, worn by influencer, reality TV star, model and businesswoman Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala, is also them.

Their bags (notably the Cagole created by Nicolas Ghesquière and reinterpreted since) are top sellers of luxury leather goods. Their triple s (for triple sole) trainers also prance among the essential outward signs of what you want. After a parade under an artificial snowstorm given under a globe at Le Bourget airport to denounce the exodus of Ukrainian refugees, Gvasalia staged its next winter parade literally in the slush. In a Villepinte stadium filled with mud and transformed into ground cracked by shell holes, around which floated a heady smell of decomposition, it was Kanye West who opened the show where zombie models rushed headlong aimless, wading, splashing, elevating dirt as one of the fine arts to, according to the manifesto, draw attention to the degradation of our world.

tangible panic
From November 16, the day the campaign was launched, it was an American youtuber, June Nicole Lapine, who first published an ironic comment on the disturbing aspect of the images published. The outcry is immediate. Balenciaga stops the campaign in its tracks and withdraws all the investments planned. The panic is tangible when the house, known to empty the content of its Instagram account after each campaign, nevertheless publishes a press release stating: “We offer our sincere apologies for any offense that our holiday campaign may have caused. Our teddy bear bags should not have featured with children in this campaign. We immediately removed the campaign from all of our platforms. We apologize for posting disturbing materials in our campaign. We take the matter very seriously and have taken legal action against the people who created the frame and included unapproved objects in our Spring Summer 2023 campaign photo shoot. We strongly condemn child abuse: it was never our intention to include it in our narrative”.

“As a mother of four children”
For her part, Kim Kardashian has drawn the wrath of internet users by taking six days to react, visibly chilled at the idea of ​​giving up a collaboration that she has every interest in protecting. Under pressure, she nevertheless decided to publish a mixed press release on Sunday November 20 in which she declared, as a “mother of four children”: “I am in the process of reassessing my relationship with the brand, based on their willingness to accept responsibility for something that should never have happened – and the actions I expect of them to protect children”. Too late, too little, judge the Web which does not intend to let go of the piece.

“request for repair”
Balenciaga also announced that it had found the “responsible parties” for the disastrous campaign, as well as its intention to sue them for $25 million in damages. Filed on November 25, the summons seeks “reparation for significant damages” from North Six, Inc, the production company hired by Balenciaga, as well as decorator Nicholas Des Jardins and his SARL. However, as everyone knows, in the end, this campaign could not have been launched without the verification and approval of the house. The soap opera is just beginning. It sheds light on the deplorable headlong rush of an industry in permanent overheating, which is struggling to keep up with the excessively rapid upheavals in the world and the changes in mood they entail, and which no doubt, moreover , has not yet fully grasped the state of mind of a new generation of buyers who are much more rigorous, disciplined, aware and austere than the usual clientele of luxury brands. The freedom of expression advocated by fashion in general, if it authorizes bad taste, does not allow playing with the innocence and safety of children, nor the overstepping of the limits of ethics and morality.

Lonely children, one standing on a bed, the other on a sofa, hug, staring blankly, something that looks like a teddy bear, but harnessed with straps adorned with metal studs in an end setting. drunken evening. Harnesses that clearly allude to BDSM codes and accessories used in sadomasochistic practices. This is what…

Fashion storm: Balenciaga booed for a pedophile campaign