Amidst its scandal involving questionable photoshoots starring children, Balenciaga was slammed again for a 2018 fashion show featuring kids on the runway alongside adults.
The designer label was accused of promoting “child pornography” with their holiday campaign, with one photo showing a young child posing with a teddy bear dressed in bondage gear, including a fishnet vest, studded collar, and harness.
Another campaign shoot with a child featured a page from the 2008 United States v. Williams Supreme Court ruling, which upheld federal laws that criminalized the presenting, distribution, advertising or promotion of child pornography. The original petition to the Supreme Court argued those laws constituted a curtailment of the First Amendment right to the freedom of speech.
TikTok user @designertreasure posted a video on their account that compiled images from Balenciaga’s spring 2018 menswear collection runway show on their account and called it “suspicious.”
The show featured men walking down the runway wearing designs by Demna Gvasalia, accompanied by children also dressed in the designer brand.
“Balenciaga 2018! Notice anything,” Designertreasure captioned the video which featured an audio track they added over the top of Cardi B saying “that’s suspicious” and “that’s weird.”
The TikToker also added the hashtags “boycott Balenciaga” and “cancel Balenciaga,” and while many people in the comments agreed with their point, others felt that it was a bit of a stretch to compare the catwalk to the controversial fashion shoots.
Others pointed out that some of the models in the show were actually the fathers of the children they had walked with.
“It’s almost like they sell children’s clothes too or something,” commented one person.
“The guy with the twins is Father of Daughters- Simon Hooper! They are his 4 children!” another person commented.
Of the 68 adult models who appeared in the show, seven of them appeared with their own children, according to Balenciaga’s show notes from that year.
The label described the aesthetic of the collection as “young dads in the park with their kids on the weekend,” and that they were “out of the office, relaxed and often observed at their happiest.”
Gvasalia said at the time that he designed the collection to provide hope and to show the beauty of family.
“I thought it was so beautiful to see a young man with a child, it’s so hopeful and so positive,” the designer told Vogue in 2018.
Last week, Balenciaga issued an apology for its new, controversial campaign and followed it up with a more lengthy statement on Monday.
The fashion label posted the statement to its Instagram account and said the photos “reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.”
“We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative,” the statement said. “The first campaign, the gift collection campaign, featured children with plush bear bags dressed in what some have labeled BDSM-inspired outfits.
“Our plush bear bags and the gift collection should not have been featured with children. This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone,” it said.
Regarding the photo that featured the court papers, Balenciaga stated that the items in the photoshoot “were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents.”
According to Balenciaga, the papers “turned out to be [real] papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama.”
“The inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaga has filed a complaint,” the company said. “We take full accountability for our lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background and we could have done things differently.”
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