After days of silence following the release of Balenciaga’s latest ad campaigns, which came under fire for featuring children as subjects holding teddy bear handbags in BDSM-inspired gear and including prop documents revealing a lawsuit related to child pornography, Demna, the brand’s creative director, has personally apologized for the images.
In a statement posted on his personal Instagram account on Friday, Dec. 2, the 41-year-old fashion designer said: “I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility. It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them. As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period.”
“I need to learn from this, listen and engage with child protection organizations to know how I can contribute and help on this terrible subject,” Demna’s statement continued. “I apologize to anyone offended by the visuals and Balenciaga has guaranteed that adequate measures will be taken not only to avoid similar mistakes in the future but also to take accountability in protecting child welfare in every way we can.”
His apology comes four days after the ads were pulled and a statement was released on Balenciaga’s official social media account, which stated that the Kering-owned French fashion house “strongly condemns child abuse” and did not intend to “include it in our narrative.”
The statement also acknowledged a second advertising campaign, released concurrently, for its Spring 2023 products which revealed legal documents of a Supreme Court case about the pandering of child pornography.
“The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes full responsibility,” continued the statement.
However, the company also filed a $25 million lawsuit against set designer Nicholas Des Jardin and North Six, the production company that handled the campaign that included the disturbing teddy bear props. As of Friday morning though, Balenciaga’s president and CEO Cedric Charbit released a statement saying that the company is no longer pursuing litigation.
THR has reached out to Des Jardin for comment and has not yet heard back. Designers, photographers, casting directors and other creatives are coming to the set designer’s defense and advocating for the brand to take accountability for approving the final images in both campaigns.
On social media, an “I stand with North Six and Nicholas Des Jardin” post has been making the rounds, reposted by several industry veterans, including photo agent Chris Boals, who added in a caption: “The control of every micro detail lies solely with the client…There were countless opportunities in the preparation, execution and post-production of this shoot where Balenciaga / Kering could’ve questioned the images that were made. They did not.”