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Balenciaga wipes its social media after apologizing for bondage-themed campaign

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Balenciaga wipes its social media after apologizing for bondage-themed campaign

High end fashion house Balenciaga is scrambling to deal with the fallout from their controversial ad campaign that featured children holding teddy bear bags that featured the stuffed animals clad in bondage attire. 

After the scandal, Belanciaga has wiped their social media accounts of all images except for an apology in their Instagram Story. The photos were part of the company’s Spring 2023 line and was titled Balenciaga Objects. 

Belanciaga often wipes their social media page clean in response to various issues. In October 2022, the company removed every photo from their Instagram page following weeks of protests by women in Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody. 

DailyMail.com has reached out to Balenciaga for comment on the scandal and the removal of images from Instagram. Contrary to online rumors, the company did not remove their Twitter account due to this recent scandal but rather in reaction Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social media giant. 

The Paris-based company said in a press release last week that the ‘campaign iterates on the artist’s series Toy Stories, an exploration of what people collect and receive as gifts.’

It went on to say that it would feature ‘dozens of new products ranging from homeware, pet wear and scent, from everyday items to limited-edition collectibles and bespoke furniture.’

Belanciaga is typically associated with A-list celebrities such as Kim Kardashian but in the fallout from this most recent scandal, model Bella Hadid deleted an Instagram post promoting the brand.

While Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman debuted her latest campaign with the brand today, as the controversy rages. Belanciaga is owned by luxury empire Kering. 

Those angry with the fashion house descended on Kidman’s Instagram page. One person said: ‘I adore you Nicole and I certainly don’t think you’re associated with the set design, however I think it tasteful to delete these considering.’

Another wrote: ‘Waiting … For you to speak out against Balenciaga for what they’ve done. Waiting.’

While another said: ‘They deleted all their photos and yet you sit complicit. Silence is deafening.’ 

A celebrity who lent her encouragement to Kidman was Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay who commented: ‘Badass beauty.’ Hargitay is known for her real-life activism in the fight against child sex abuse. 

One follower responded to Hargitay saying: ‘I am surprised you are supporting this. I thought after so many years working on SVU. You would be ok with a photoshoot that endorses child abuse.’

The 55-year-old Australian born Oscar-winning actress shared two images to Instagram where she was posing for Balenciaga

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay commented on this picture writing: 'Badass beauty'

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay commented on this picture writing: ‘Badass beauty’ 

Fashion brand Balenciaga is apologizing for what many believe is a photoshoot that amounts to child pornography, with a child holding a teddy bear dressed in a BDSM outfit

Fashion brand Balenciaga is apologizing for what many believe is a photoshoot that amounts to child pornography, with a child holding a teddy bear dressed in a BDSM outfit 

Balenciaga, a globally-renowned Spanish fashion house who dress the likes of Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman among other, appear to be laying the blame at the photographer, Gabriele Galimberti

Balenciaga, a globally-renowned Spanish fashion house who dress the likes of Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman among other, appear to be laying the blame at the photographer, Gabriele Galimberti 

The bondage-clad teddybears are actually handbags that appeared on the runway earlier this year

The bondage-clad teddybears are actually handbags that appeared on the runway earlier this year

Perhaps even more bizarrely, a Twitter user discovered an Easter egg in the shoot, with one of the photos containing an excerpt from the US Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Williams, which upheld part of a federal child pornography law, which Twitter's own fact-checkers confirmed

Perhaps even more bizarrely, a Twitter user discovered an Easter egg in the shoot, with one of the photos containing an excerpt from the US Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Williams, which upheld part of a federal child pornography law, which Twitter’s own fact-checkers confirmed

Balenciaga's Instagram page as of the afternoon of Wednesday November 23

Balenciaga’s Instagram page as of the afternoon of Wednesday November 23

Among the clothing worn by the children’s toys in the ads are fishnet stockings, chokers, string vests and chains leading to many on social media to refer to it as ‘child porn’ and ‘disturbing.’

Perhaps the most shocking image is that of a document from a previous advertisement, shown close to a child tucked under a purse, the 2008 Supreme Court ruling United States v Williams which examined if laws against the promotion of child pornography were in violation of the first amendment. 

The ruling determined that offering or requesting to transfer, sell, deliver, or trade child pornography did not violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, even if a person charged under the code did not in fact possess child pornography with which to trade. The late Justice Antonin Scalia noted specifically that offers to engage in illegal transactions are categorically excluded from First Amendment protection.

Second thoughts: Bella posted ¿ and then deleted ¿ a series of images to Instagram on Tuesday that showed her modeling Balenciaga's new spring collection. Her 'maxi hourglass' coat costs $4,290 while the black blouse beneath runs a mere $1,950

Second thoughts: Bella posted – and then deleted – a series of images to Instagram on Tuesday that showed her modeling Balenciaga’s new spring collection. Her ‘maxi hourglass’ coat costs $4,290 while the black blouse beneath runs a mere $1,950

Pictures showing Balenciaga's apology that posted on their Instagram page

Pictures showing Balenciaga’s apology that posted on their Instagram page

The brand has said that they will pursue legal action against those found to be responsible for the scandal

The brand has said that they will pursue legal action against those found to be responsible for the scandal 

Balenciaga released a statement Tuesday apologizing for the photoshoot and seemingly suggesting they would take legal action against Galimberti and anyone else involved

Balenciaga released a statement Tuesday apologizing for the photoshoot and seemingly suggesting they would take legal action against Galimberti and anyone else involved

Some of the pictures were shot by Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti, who is perhaps best known for his work with National Geographic. 

On his Instagram page, Galimberti issued an apology saying that he was not in creative control of the shoot and merely was in charge of lighting. 

He said: ‘I am not in a position to comment [on] Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose (sic) the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.’ 

Galimberti continued: ‘As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit (sic) the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style. 

‘As usual, the direction of the campaign and of the shooting are not on the hands of the photographer.’

He concluded: ‘I suspect that any person prone to pedophilia searches on the web and has unfortunately a too easy access to images completely different than mine, absolutely explicit in their awful content. Lynching like these are addressed against wrong targets, and distract from the real problem, and criminals.’ 

Galimberti also said that he had nothing to do with the photos of the Supreme Court documents. 

Galimberti promoted the images as part of a project series he called ‘Toy Stories,’ in an apparent reference to the Disney/Pixar film series, according to the Daily Dot.

He writes of the project on his website: ‘For over two years, I visited more than 50 countries and created colorful images of boys and girls in their homes and neighborhoods with their most prized possessions: their toys.’

‘From Texas to India, Malawi to China, Iceland, Morocco, and Fiji, I recorded the spontaneous and natural joy that unites kids despite their diverse backgrounds. Whether the child owns a veritable fleet of miniature cars or a single stuffed monkey, the pride that they have is moving, funny, and thought provoking.’

The issue appears to have been brought to the mainstream through a post from social media provocateur @shoe0nhead

The issue appears to have been brought to the mainstream through a post from social media provocateur @shoe0nhead

Galimberti has been featured in National Geographic, The Sunday Times, Stern, Geo, Le Monde, La Repubblica and Marie Claire, according to his website.

In an apology, Balenciaga said that the ads have been pulled and that ‘plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign.’

The company also said that they are taking legal action ‘against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our spring 23 campaign photoshoot.’

The statement went on to say: ‘We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form.’ 

More recently, Balenciaga was in the news after they became one of the many brands to cut ties with rapper Kanye West aka Ye after he made a series of anti-Semitic remarks. 

After the photos of the children spread across social media, one Twitter use wrote: ‘Balenciaga may have “apologized” but everyone knows that campaign got past people at the highest level. This is a publicity strategy, trying to get attention with controversial content. I do not accept their apology and never will. It’s NEVER okay to sexualize kids.’ 

Another person wrote: ‘I understand that a lot of Balenciaga’s marketing is the ‘shock factor’ of it all but this is just disgusting.’ 

The issue appears to have been brought to the mainstream through a post from social media provocateur @shoe0nhead. 

She posted on Twitter on November 20: ‘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.’

As recently as Monday, Kardashian was seen wearing Balenciaga as she left her LA office after a shoot

As recently as Monday, Kardashian was seen wearing Balenciaga as she left her LA office after a shoot 

The tweet was accompanied by some of the controversial pictures. The photoshoot was later covered by Tucker Carlson on his eponymous Fox News show on November 21. 

Carlson said in his broadcast: ‘There’s no front-page New York Times editorial against it, and of course, Instagram let the advertisement run, endorsing kiddie porn.’

Over on Mumsnet, parents took issue with the ‘highly inappropriate’ photoshoot.

One wrote: ‘B****y typical of Balenciaga. They shock to get attention for there overpriced rubbish. It’s like a social experiment on how ridiculous there products are but yet people buy the rubbish.

‘This though is disgusting and verging on depraved. What possessed the parents of this child to think this is any sort of normal I cannot fathom.’

‘That is a very uncomfortable image,’ another added.

Conservative commentator Candace Owens called on Kim Kardashian and sister Khloe to condemn the photoshoots.

Owens tweeted: It was so great to see @KimKardashian use her platform to condemn antisemitism. Let’s see if she’ll use that same platform to condemn the blatant child pornography documents being promoted in #Balenciaga ads, since she is one of the faces of the brand. @khloekardashian —you too!’

As recently as Monday, Kardashian was seen wearing Balenciaga as she left her LA office after a shoot.

Balenciaga was founded by Spanish monarchist Cristobal Balenciaga in 1991. The current creative director of the brand is Georgia native Demna Gvasalia. 

In 2001, the company, which quotes annual revenues of nearly two billion, was acquired by Kering from Gucci.  

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