Balenciaga’s creative designer has personally apologised for the fashion house’s latest campaign, which was criticised by the likes of Kim Kardashian, admitting it was “inappropriate” and the “wrong artistic choice”.
Demna Gvasalia said he takes responsibility for the scandal and that despite wanting to “provoke a thought” through his work, he would never have done so with the subject of child abuse.
Images for the campaign included children holding teddy bears dressed in BDSM-style clothes and surrounded by an assortment of other items.
The backlash was exacerbated when photos of a second campaign collaboration with Adidas showed a bag placed on legal documents that were related to child pornography.
The French-owned fashion house has since deleted its Instagram post showing the campaign, but not before it sparked major furore online, including from 42-year-old Kim Kardashian.
After remaining silent for a few days, Kardashian issued a statement on social media after becoming embroiled in the ad campaign controversy as an ambassador for Balenciaga, and said she was “re-evaluating my relationship” with the brand.
In an online message, Georgian fashion designer Mr Gvasalia wrote: “I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility.
“It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them.
“As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period.”
He added that he would engage with child protection organisations to learn how to “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,” he wrote.
Mr Gvasalia also posted a statement from Balenciaga’s chief executive Cedric Charbit, which stated the fashion house’s “process for content validation has failed, and we recognize the need to do better”.
The statement added that the house has “decided not to pursue litigation” and that it wants to “learn, help and contribute to protect children”.
In her own statement, Kardashian said she stayed quiet in the days since the campaign was first posted online because she wanted to speak with the brand to “understand for myself how this could have happened”.
She wrote: “I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns, but because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened.
“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 continued: “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.”