Balenciaga is suing the production company responsible for its controversial Spring 2023 ad campaign for at least $25 million. The label filed the lawsuit after being blasted with complaints about their indecent use of children in advertisements.
The lawsuit, filed by the luxury fashion designer on Friday, was initiated in New York following paperwork regarding a Supreme Court ruling on child pornography that was identified in one of the images, CNN reports.
Balenciaga, which is owned by French luxury group Kering, filed the suit against production company North Six, Inc., as well as set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his company, who they hired to develop and produce its Spring 2023 campaign, according to the court summons.
The ad campaign also featured actress Nicole Kidman and model Bella Hadid among others with photos staged in a “Manhattan office space” meant to recreate a corporate environment.
Lawsuit Stems From Piece Of Court Paper Featured In Ad “Which Confirms As Illegal… Promotion Of Child Pornography”
In one particular shot, a page from a 2008 Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Williams, “which confirms as illegal and not protected by freedom of speech the promotion of child pornography,” can be seen amongst the clutter on a desk.
The company insists it had no knowledge of the piece of paperwork, and didn’t authorize its inclusion in the photoshoot, court documents claim.
the brand "Balenciaga" just did a uh….. interesting… photoshoot for their new products recently which included a very purposely poorly hidden court document about 'virtual child porn'
normal stuff pic.twitter.com/zjMN5WhZ0s
— shoe (@shoe0nhead) November 21, 2022
“All the items included in this shooting were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents,” Balenciaga said in a statement to CNN. “They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama.”
The summons states the defendants “inexplicable acts and omissions were malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless,” and added “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” as a reult of the defendants’ actions.
The clothing outfitter’s court filing also states North Six and Des Jardins should be held liable for “all harm resulting from this false association.”
Production Company Claims They Did Not Have Input Or Control Over Shoot, “No Malevolent Scheme”
Meanwhile, an attorney for Nicholas Des Jardins and his company Nicholas Des Jardins LLC, told CNN that “there certainly was no malevolent scheme going on. As Balenciaga is aware, numerous boxes of documents simply were sourced from a prop house as rental items.”
“Moreover, representatives from Balenciaga were present at the shoot, overseeing it and handling papers and props,” attorney Amelia K. Brankov’s statement read, “and Des Jardins as a set designer was not responsible for image selection from the shoot.”
A representative for the production company said the “did not have creative input or control over the shoot. North Six was not on set during the final set arrangements.”
The company was already facing widespread backlash over a different ad campaign involving children and BDSM bondage teddy bears at the time of Friday’s court filing.
Last week, The Shade Room reported that the brand would be taking a stand against child abuse following the recent controversy after issuing an apology.
The entire situation came to public attention last week after people began slamming a strange set of ads, which featured young children holding teddy bears that appeared to be dressed in bondage gear.
Frequent Brand Collaborator Kim Kardashian Says She Was “Shocked And Outraged” By Recently Pulled Ad Campaigns
The controversy swiftly spread like wildfire; social media users and major figures like Tucker Carlson didn’t hold back from calling Balenciaga out and accusing the brand of sexualizing children.
Meanwhile, frequent brand collaborator Kim Kardashian said she was “shocked and outraged” by the recently pulled Balenciaga holiday ad campaigns, The Shade Room previously reported. Last week, the luxury retailer apologized after social media users accused them of sexualizing children in two recent campaign ads.
Before and following Balenciaga’s apology, social media users also demanded Kim speak on the campaigns. She is one of the brand’s most famous ambassadors and a mother of four kids with Kanye West. Last month, Balenciaga cut collaborator ties with Ye for unrelated reasons.
Kim broke her silence on the controversial creative visions on Sunday (November 27).
“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,” Kim said. “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.”
What Made The Balenciaga Campaigns Go Viral?
Several images of Balenciaga’s holiday gifting campaign featured young children with bear bags dressed in bondage gear. While the girl models seemed appropriately dressed, the bears wore netted tops, chokers, and spiked cuffs around the wrists and anklets.
Elsewhere in the photos, Balenciaga promoted holiday gifts like wine glasses, a dog leash and bowl, and what looks like a flask.
Gabriele Galimberti photographed the holiday Toy Stories campaign. He told CNN that he was “not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither choose the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.”
Another campaign, created for a collaboration with Adidas, used documents about a court ruling related to federal child pornography laws as a prop. Unfortunately, a viral tweet by June Nicole Lapine (@shoe0onhead) incorrectly linked the campaigns during the first waves of backlash.