Reality star Kim Kardashian has broken her silence on Balenciaga’s widely criticized ‘Balenciaga Gift Shop’ and ‘Garde-Robe’ campaigns and said that she is “re-evaluating” her relationship with the company.
“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,” Kardashian said on Twitter on Sunday.
The two campaigns, described as ‘disturbing’ and ‘unsettling,’ raised a storm of outrage on social media with many accusing Balenciaga of condoning child exploitation. The first campaign, Balenciaga Gift Shop, featured children holding what looked like plush teddy bears in BDSM gear. While the Garde-Robe campaign, which was shot before but released five days after Gift Shop, had in the background, as props, paperwork from a Supreme Court decision on child pornography laws.
The controversial ads have also become QAnon conspiracy fodder, especially after they were picked up by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson.
Balenciaga has provoked outrage with its campaigns before, especially since Demna Gvasalia took over as artistic director in 2015. His ideas and campaigns — which include a runway full of models dressed as refugees clutching $2000 leather pouches that were made to look like trash bags — mostly leaned on being intentionally controversial, thriving on the contradiction and shock value.
Kardashian was a brand ambassador for Balenciaga and is one of Gvasalia’s most famous muses. Gvasalia is behind some of Kardashian’s most iconic (or most insane) looks — the ‘shadow’ suit for the 2021 Met Gala, the pink jumpsuit for her Saturday Night Live monologue, and more recently, the Balenciaga-branded-packing-tape-suit at the Paris Fashion Week. It’s understandable why people have been putting a lot of pressure on the reality star to take a stand on the issue since it arrived on social media two weeks ago.
Kardashian explained that the silence was because she wanted an “opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened,” but did not confirm whether she was able to understand or that she would stop working with the fashion house, only that she would “re-evaluate” her relationship with them.
Balenciaga has posted two separate apologies for the campaigns on social media. On Monday, the fashion house addressed the matter with a statement saying that they “strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative. The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.”
Balenciaga took full responsibility for the Gift Shop campaign. It was shot by Italian documentary photographer Gabriele Galimberti, but he had no involvement in the decision to include children.
For the Garde-Robe, on the other hand, the fashion house filed a suit against the campaign’s production company North Six and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins, alleging that the props were added to the set and the resulting campaign photographs without their knowledge, and claiming that these acts were “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless.”
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