Balenciaga Apologizes For Their Controversial Campaign Featuring Kids In 2022

Children holding plush toys decked out in BDSM gear were observed.


Following criticism of a recently unveiled campaign for the holiday season, Balenciaga has issued an official apology. 

Children posed for the photos holding toys decked out in bondage and BDSM garb to highlight the company's Objects line, which features logo-heavy accessories. In addition to models sporting makeup that simulated bruising, these teddy bears were displayed on the brand's Summer 2023 runway in October.

Social media users were quick to point out additional details in the advertisement, which Gabriele Galimberti shot, a National Geographic photographer well-known for photographing children and his "Toy Stories" project. 

The photo shoot was "interesting," according to a trending tweet, and "included a very purposefully poorly hidden court document about "virtual child porn." Zooming in, viewers discovered that the documents used as props for the photo shoot were taken from the 2008 Supreme Court case United States v. Williams, which addressed child sexual abuse. The trending tweet also noted that Balenciaga removed the divisive campaign in response to criticism.

On all of Balenciaga's platforms, the campaign has since been removed. The residence apologized in person on Instagram Stories:

"We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We immediately removed the campaign from all platforms. Additionally, 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. We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children's safety and well-being."

Several fans have noted that Balenciaga frequently clears its Instagram feed in their comments on the issue, which fans on social media have discussed. Others claim that given how unfavorable the press would be for any fashion company, the brand most likely overlooked the court records used for the photo session. Many people stated that there is "no chance" the brand overlooked props with so many clearances required before a campaign runs. 

Bad set construction? That is not how I would act. Was it merely a coincidence that that particular document happened to be there? It was purposefully placed there, and whoever did it has to be held accountable. That legal action was taken is a good thing. It's pretty serious when things like this happen.

But did no one at Balenciaga—out of the countless individuals who saw the pictures prior to publication—consider it inappropriate for a child to be holding a fetishized toy? They must perform better, said a user. Another person said, "I found the papers to be very disturbing... This docket of this particular case is very particular. It's difficult to imagine that this is a coincidence."

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