Balenciaga Pulls Ad Campaign Featuring Children Holding Teddy Bears In Bondage Gear

Balenciaga Pulls Ad Campaign Featuring Children Holding Teddy Bears In Bondage Gear

The fashion house apologizes for the spread, while a photographer who took the pictures also speaks out.

Balenciaga has apologized and pulled one of its latest ad campaigns following serious backlash and online criticism.

The pictures in question, taken by photographer Gabriele Galimberti, were a play on his regular Toy Stories series — in which he photographs children surrounded by their favorite toys. In the Balenciaga ads, the kids were surrounded by goods from the fashion house — while holding handbags which looked like teddy bears.

The stuffed animals, however, were decked out in BDSM gear — including leather harnesses, fishnets and chains — prompting complaints on social media. One of the other photographs appeared to include a tucked-away document from a Supreme Court case pertaining to child pornography.

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On Tuesday, Balenciaga deleted everything on its Instagram page and pulled down the campaign. The company also issued a statement to its Instagram Story.

“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,” it began. “We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.”

“We apologize 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,” they continued. “We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being.”

Galimberti issued a statement of his own on Wednesday, claiming he was simply told to point and shoot, in the style of his Toy Stories series.

“Following the hundreds of hate mails and messages I received as a result of the photos I took for the Balenciaga campaign, I feel compelled to make this statement,” he began. “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.”

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

He also said he has “no connection with the photo where a Supreme Court document appears,” saying it was “taken in another set by other people and and was falsely associated with my photos.”


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