Balenciaga In Damage Control Mode Over “BDSM Toddler” Campaign, Files $25 Million Suit

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Fashion giant Balenciaga has pulled a controversial campaign featuring children holding teddy bears in “BDSM” bondage getups following outrage on social media and has vowed to pursue lawsuits against those involved in directing the fashion spread.

The company has also filed a $25 million lawsuit against production company North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins over the use of documents from two Supreme Court decisions on child pornography in the campaign, as The New York Post reported.

The documents arranged in the set for the shoot pertained to the case U.S. v. Williams which made child pornography criminal, and Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, which determined virtual child pornography could be considered protected speech.

“As a result of Defendants’ misconduct, members of the public, including the news media, have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject of the court decision,” the lawsuit contends. “Defendants are liable to Balenciaga for all harm resulting from this false association.”

While the lawsuit does not mention the teddy bears, Balenciaga posted an apology to Instagram that addressed both the documents and the “plush bags,” which it said “should not have been featured with children in this campaign.”

“We apologize for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign,” the statement 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 photoshoot. We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being.”

“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 have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms,” it also said.

Photographer Gabriele Galimberti also aggressively distanced himself from the campaign, issuing an apology and clearly outlining his lack of control over the subjects of the photo shoot.

“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 wrote on Instagram.

“As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit [sic] the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style,” he explained. “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.”

Galimberti also made clear that he’d had “no connection with the photo where a Supreme Court document appears.”

On the other hand, the father of one of the children featured in the campaign told The Daily Mail that the shoot, which he said featured children of Balenciaga employees, has been taken “totally out of context.”

“No parent would actively encourage the child to take part in something which was pornographic, and I think the publicity surrounding what happened has been blown out of all proportion,” the father, who did not want to give his name to the outlet, said.

He also described the photo shoot as an “enjoyable day out” for his child.

In addition to the disturbing Supreme Court documents and the teddy bears outfitted in attire generally associated with sexual fetishes, at least one of the photos in the spread featured a child laying on a couch next to a table that had alcoholic drinks placed on it.

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