Balenciaga Scandal

Balenciaga controversy continues with new fashion campaigns!

The infamous Balenciaga fashion label has been at the center of controversy for years, and when they released the first campaign of their Spring/Summer 2023 collection on November 16th, their reputation only worsened. This luxury fashion house just received a new artistic director in 2015, Demna Gvasalia. Denma has been the cause of numerous disputes and has created quite a number of debatable fashion pieces. Namely, Kim Kardashian’s outfit for the 2021 Met Gala. Denma put her in a black dress that covered her from head to toe. This piece received lots of hate online, and even Kim had stated that she originally didn’t want to cover her face at the Gala.

On November 16th, Balenciaga released their holiday campaign, “The Gift Collection.”  The Gift Collection was a photoshoot advertising their newest item, with children as models. The children were instructed to hold teddy bear-shaped handbags, but these handbags were wearing things like spiked collars and harnesses and wine glasses could be seen in the background. This photoshoot immediately received lots of backlash, and Balenciaga was accused of “sexualizing children.” Gabriele Galimberti was hired to photograph the campaign because it was inspired by his “Toy Stories” photobook. Balenciaga told Galimberti that they wanted him to shoot The Gift Collection in a similar manner to his book, but they would provide the “punk objects.” The “Toy Stories” book has gained a following of haters, who are trying to start controversy, but if you research Galimberti’s book, it’s actually a very anodyne project. People online are trying to make Galimberti appear as a bad person, simply because he shot Balenciaga’s gift collection. Galimberti was just doing the job he was hired to do. On November 23rd, following the campaign release, he sent out a formal apology on his Instagram. This addressed all of the “hate mail and messages” he received. He stated that he did not choose “the products, models, or combination of the same.” He also claimed to have no connection to Balenciaga’s other recent and just as problematic campaign. 

Balenciaga’s Garde-Robe campaign only added to their scandal. This campaign had an “office theme” with actual Supreme Court documents in the background of their photos, which according to Balenciaga, were not approved for the shoot. The document was the ruling of United States v Williams which deemed the promotion of child pornography illegal. The display of these documents in the campaign led Balenciaga to sue the production company and set designer of the Garde-Robe. This was a 25-million-dollar lawsuit against North Six and Nicholas Des Jardins, who were the responsible parties for this incident. This lawsuit was eventually dropped, seeing as it would be incredibly difficult for Balenciaga to win their case. Even after Denma’s apology, Balenciaga’s reputation seemed forever muddied. Kim Kardashian posted on her Instagram that she does not support these campaigns and that she would be “reevaluating her relationship with Balenciaga.” The British Fashion Council stated that Denma would be pulled from the Designer of the Year running, and the Business of Fashion revoked Denma’s Global Voices award. 

Balenciaga storefront