Balenciaga sues production company for $25 million over controversial campaign

Contributors Lianne Kolirin, CNNToyin Owoseje, CNN

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga is suing the production company behind its spring 2023 advertising campaign after documents relating to a Supreme Court ruling on child pornography were identified in one of the images.

The label, which is already the subject of a conviction for a different campaign involving children, began the trial Friday in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Balenciaga seeks at least $25 million in damages from production company North Six, Inc., set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his company

Balenciaga has hired North Six and Des Jardins to develop and produce its Spring 2023 campaign, according to the court summons.

He said the campaign, which featured actor Nicole Kidman and model Bella Hadid, among others, aimed to replicate a corporate environment, with shots set in a “Manhattan office space”.

On a messy desk featured in one image, however, the clutter obviously included a page from the 2008 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Williams, a case “which confirms as illegal and unprotected by free speech the promotion of child pornography“, according to a statement Balenciaga provided to CNN on Monday.

The court document claims that Balenciaga, which is owned by French luxury group Kering, had no knowledge and did not authorize the inclusion of this particular document.

In his statement to CNN, Balenciaga said that “all items included in this shoot were provided by third parties who have confirmed in writing that these props were false office documents. They turned out to be real legal documents from very probably from filming a television drama.”

Balenciaga said in the subpoena that he believed the defendants’ “unexplainable acts and omissions were malicious or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless.”

The court filing alleges that as a result of the defendants’ actions, “members of the public, including the news media, falsely and horribly associated Balenciaga with the repugnant and deeply disturbing subject matter of the court’s decision.” North Six and Des Jardins, he says, should be held liable for “any harm resulting from this false association”.

Amelia K. Brankov, attorney for Nicholas Des Jardins and his company Nicholas Des Jardins LLC, said in a statement emailed to CNN that “there were certainly no malicious schemes going on. As Balenciaga knows , many boxes of documents were simply from a prop house as rental items.”

“Furthermore, representatives of Balenciaga were present at the shoot, supervising it and handling the papers and props,” Brankov’s statement continued, “and Des Jardins as set designer was not responsible for selecting images for the shoot. .”

A representative for North Six said the production company “had no creative input or control over filming. North Six was not on set during final preparations for filming.”

bad judgment

As it continues its own investigation into the matter, Balenciaga said it takes responsibility for its lack of oversight and control over campaign imagery.

“We are strengthening the structures around our creative processes and approval stages. We want to ensure that the new controls mark a pivot and will prevent this from happening again,” he said in a statement. “Balenciaga reiterates its sincere apologies for the offense we have caused and extends its apologies to the talents and partners.”

Balenciaga also addressed the widespread outrage and condemnation of another recent campaign featuring children cuddling dressed teddy bears in fetish clothes.

“We strongly condemn child abuse; we never intended to include it in our narrative,” the company said. “Our teddy bear bags and the Gift collection should not have been presented with children. This was a poor choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure to evaluate and validate the images. Responsibility for this lies solely with Balenciaga.”

Kim Kardashian, who served as a fashion brand ambassador, addressed the campaign on Sunday after receiving a deluge of messages from fans and commentators urging him to speak out against the brand.

Kardashian said she was “reassessing” her working relationship with Balenciaga and that as a mother she was “shaken by the disturbing images”.

“Child safety should be held with the utmost respect and any attempt to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society – period,” she told him. 74.2 million Twitter followers.
Balenciaga had apologized for the campaign last week, saying he had “immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.”
The photographer Gabriele Galimberti told CNN in a statement last week the direction and filming of the campaign featuring the teddy bears was out of his hands.

“I am not in a position to comment (on) Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I had no right in any way to choose (sic) the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same. .as usual, the direction of the campaign and the shoot are not in the hands of the photographer.”

North Six and a representative for Nicholas Des Jardins LLC said they were not involved in the teddy bear campaign.

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