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Luxury brand ‘Balenciaga’ draws ire over BDSM themed children’s photoshoot

A 103-year-old luxury fashion brand named Balenciaga has courted controversy over its disturbing portrayal of children for its Spring/Summer 2023 Collection.

Founded by the Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, the brand had recently updated the homepage of its website with pictures of two pre-pubescent girls in bondage-style gear.

The children were shown posing with teddy bears, which were dressed in fishnet tops, leather harnesses and collars with locks. Reportedly, one of the disturbing images also contained documents from a child sexual abuse case.

While reacting to the development on Monday (November 28), the brand ambassador of Balenciaga Kim Kardashian said, “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.”

She appreciated the decision of the luxury brand to remove the disturbing images from their site and is evaluating her association with Balenciaga.

I appreciate Balenciaga’s removal of the campaigns and apology. In speaking with them, I believe they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again,” she said.

“As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with — & the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children,” Kardashian concluded.

Balenciaga apologises, deletes controversial pictures

After drawing the wrath of social media users, Balenciaga was forced to tender an apology on November 22 this year.

“We sincerely apologize for any offence our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms,” the fashion brand said in a statement.

Two hours later, Balenciaga posted another statement, which read, “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.”

Screengrab of the Instagram stories of Balenciaga

“We strongly condemn ( the ) abuse of children in any form. We stand for children’s safety and well-being,” it tried to undo the damage in public.

Reportedly, the luxury fashion brand has filed a lawsuit against production company North Six, Inc. and its set designer Nicholas Des Jardins for a whopping $25 million for the questionable ad campaign. Gabriele Galimberti, the man behind the controversial photoshoot, has also cried foul over the matter.

Photographer cries foul

In a statement, he claimed, “I am not in a position to comment Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.”

He further added, “As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit 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.”

“I suspect that any person prone to paedophilia searches on the web and has unfortunately too easy access to images completely different than mine, absolutely explicit in their awful content. Accusations like these are addressed against wrong targets and distract from the real problem, and criminals,” he asserted.

Gabriele Galimberti also told the angry netizens that they were targeting the wrong person and not real-life paedophiles. He also distanced himself from the image, featuring legal documentation about a child abuse case.

“Also, I have no connection with the photo where a Supreme Court document appears. That one was taken in another set by other people and was falsely associated with my photos,” Galimberti concluded.

This however did not stop netizens from calling for a complete boycott of Balenciaga over the sexual objectification of minors for the promotion of its latest collection.

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