Balenciaga Apologises For ‘Disgusting’ And ‘Depraved’ Ad Campaign

Balenciaga has apologised following significant criticism over a ‘disgusting’ and ‘depraved’ advertisement campaign.
Credit: Balenciaga & Alamy

Balenciaga has apologised following significant criticism of its ‘disgusting’ and ‘depraved’ advertisement campaign.

The fashion house was founded by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga in 1919 and soon became known as a couturier of uncompromising standards.

Driven largely by the ‘Ugly Sneakers’ phenomenon, Balenciaga’s revenue boomed to around $2.3 billion last year, from $17 million in 2001.

Balenciaga has used a number of A-List celebrities to promote its products in often controversial and ‘out-there’ campaigns in the past. 

The likes of Kim Kardashian and her ex-husband, Kanye West, singer Justin Bieber and his wife, Hailey, and ‘Cold Heart’ hitmaker Dua Lipa are all big fans of the brand.

Find out more about the controversial Balenciaga campaign below…

However, a recent photo shoot has catapulted Balenciaga into a less-than-favourable spotlight. 

On its official website, the brand launched its ‘Toy Stories’ campaign, featuring child models posing with the famous teddy bear handbags from its Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2023 collection.

However, people were quick to note that the plush toys appeared to be dressed in bondage and BDSM gear, with fishnet tops, studded leather harnesses and collars with locks.

Related Article: Woman ‘Heartbroken’ After Paying £675 For Balenciaga Handbag That Is Size Of Her Palm

One person wrote on Twitter: “I understand that a lot of Balenciaga’s marketing is the ‘shock factor’ of it all but this is just disgusting.”

The photos were also criticised as people alleged that one of the campaign images used a Supreme Court opinion in a child p***ography case as a prop.

Belanciaga campaign
Balenciaga caused uproar by featuring children and BDSM gear in its most recent ad campaign. Credit: Balenciaga

The court papers used in the campaign are allegedly from a 2008 Supreme Court case, United States v Williams, which criminalised the ‘pandering’ of child p***ography. 

Others claimed that the visible part of the court documents displayed next to the Balenciaga handbag made reference to another 2002 Supreme Court case, Ashcroft v Free Speech Coalition. 

In this case, the court removed a portion of the Child P***ography Prevention Act of 1996, deciding that virtual child p***ography is ‘protected speech’.

Balenciaga statement.
Balenciaga has released a statement after significant criticism of its latest advertising campaign. Credit: @balenciaga/Instagram

One person tweeted: “There is NO acceptable reason to be exposing children to BDSM.

“This is sick and now Balenciaga has deleted all posts on IG and changed the photo on the site.”

Another described it as ‘concerning and horrifying’.

On Tuesday, Balenciaga issued an apology on its Instagram story: “We sincerely apologise for any offence our holiday campaign may have caused.

“Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign.”

Balenciaga then said the ad had been pulled from all platforms. 

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Reacting to the post, one person replied: “Omg Balenciaga’s apology…

“Their depraved ad campaign s**ualising children and revealing their pro-child p*** position was their… HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN?!”

In a follow-up post referring to the alleged use of court documents in the ad, the company said: “We apologise 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 the abuse of children in any form.

“We stand for children’s safety and well-being.”

Balenciaga statement.
Balenciaga also apologised for the use of court documents in the campaign. Credit: @balenciaga/Instagram

Much of the campaign was shot by National Geographic photographer Gabriele Galimberti.

Following ‘hundreds’ of messages slamming the campaign, he said in a statement on Instagram that he was ‘not involved’ in the creative process behind the campaign.

He stated: “As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to light the given scene and take the shots according to my signature style.

“As usual for a commercial shooting, the direction of the campaign and the choice of the objects displayed are not in the hands of the photographer.”

Following Balenciaga’s apology, model Bella Hadid reportedly deleted a post promoting the brand on her Instagram account.

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