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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Balenciaga, Photographer Speak Out Over Child Model Controversy

Balenciaga is in hot water over its latest ad campaign, in which it has been accused of promoting inappropriate behavior involving children — and now photographers and companies have spoken out.


The original ad campaign, which has been pulled from the designer’s social platforms and website, featured two young girls holding teddy bears and appearing to be wearing BDSM bondage gear.

After digging further, others on social media noticed a still photo of a Balenciaga bag on a table with a document from the court case Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, which ruled in favor of virtual child pornography.

A third image shows a redheaded woman sitting at a desk overlooking New York City with a book by Michael Boerrman showing children’s Nude photos.

Angry viewers and shoppers took to the internet to slam the company and shame them for their now viral marketing campaign.

@natly.denise #Balenciaga it got? ? ? ? ? #balenciagakidad ♬ Original Sound – natly.denise

After the backlash, Balenciaga issued an apology via social media.

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Instagram via Balenciaga

“We apologize for displaying the disturbing document at our campaign. We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set, and added to our Spring ’23 campaign photo shoot Unapproved project,” read the company’s story. “We strongly condemn any form of child abuse. We stand for the safety and wellbeing of children.”

After Balenciaga’s statement, the campaign’s photographer, Gabriele Galimberti, wrote a lengthy statement on his own Instagram account, attempting to absolve himself of the creative decisions he had made in styling and itemizing the event.

“As a photographer, I’m simply asked to light a given scene and take the picture in my signature style,” he says. “As with a commercial shoot, the direction of the ad and the choice of who to show is out of the hands of the photographer.”

He also noted that he had received “hundreds” of hate mail and negative messages.

“I have no right to comment on Balenciaga’s selection, but I must emphasize that I have no right in any way to choose products, styles or combinations of them,” he insisted.

This isn’t the first scandal that has rocked the designer this year.

Amid Kanye West’s spate of anti-Semitic and hate speech last month, the label announced it was severing ties with the rapper after collaborating with him on the now-defunct Yeezy Gap line.

“Balenciaga no longer has any relationship with the artist and has no plans for any future projects,” Kering, Balenciaga’s parent company, told world war last month.

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