Dec 2, 2022
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Demna and Balenciaga issue apologies for kids S&M ad campaign, and drop court case

Dec 2, 2022

Demna, the creative director of Balenciaga, and the house's CEO have issued a personal apology for its kids S&M ad campaign that ignited a firestorm of criticism, and dropped its court case against the production company. 

Balenciaga - Spring-Summer2023 - Womenswear - Paris - © PixelFormula

The brand’s CEO Cedric Charbit has also announced that it has dropped a court action seeking $25 million in damages against the production company which made the ad, North Six, another action that ignited opprobrium throughout the fashion industry.
“I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take full responsibility. It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them,” Demna wrote.

“As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have any intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period,” the designer added.
The actual sado-masochistic dolls that the children held in the ad campaign first appeared in Balenciaga’s catwalk “mud show” opened by Kanye West, now Ye, during Paris Fashion Week in October. At the time, the objects were carried by runway models, and seen as an example of Demna’s dystopian vision. However, after they were placed beside toddlers surrounded by wine glasses in the campaign, criticism on social media exploded lamenting the exploitation of children for commercial purposes.
“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. 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. Sincerely Demna,” the Georgian-born designer’s statement ended.
In a related move, CEO Charbit said the house would immediately nominate “an image board, responsible for evaluating the nature of our content from the concept to the final assets.”  
“Balenciaga has decided not to pursue litigation,” added Charbit, who was openly pilloried on Fox News by its main TV host Tucker Carlson for allegedly condoning child pornography.
The management decision also ends a court case which had shocked industry image makers for the failure of the house to take responsibility for its own aesthetic decisions. Doubly so, given its designers reputation for creative provocative shows and campaigns.
“Together with my team we will go on a “listening tour” to engage with advocacy groups who aim to protect children… We have set aside a significant fund for grants to organizations so that we can help make a difference in protecting children,” added the Balenciaga CEO.

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