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Balenciaga files US$25m lawsuit against production firm in controversial children's ad

Balenciaga files US$25m lawsuit against production firm in controversial children's ad

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Balenciaga has filed a US$25 million lawsuit against the production companies involved in its latest ad campaign. The papers were submitted against the defendants, set designer Nicholas Des Jardins, his company of the same name and North Six Inc.

In the lawsuit, the brand said that the “defendants inexplicable acts and omissions were malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless”. It added that because of their misconduct, “members of the public, including the news media, have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject of the court decision”. As such the defendants are liable to Balenciaga for all harm resulting from this false association.

The issue first emerged last week when news outlets and netizens called out the brand for sexualising children in its holiday campaign. The photos, which have since been deleted by the luxury fashion brand, reportedly showed children holding teddy bears that were wearing what seemed like bondage harnesses. One image showed a child standing on the bed with a plush bear bag and being surrounded by other accessories and Balenciaga purses. Those items also include what seems to be a chain leash. 

In a statement then, Balenciaga said, "Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in its campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms."

The statement also said that the brand would be taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for its Spring 2023 campaign photoshoot. "We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children's safety and well-being," Balenciaga added.

Since the incident, one of the photographers, Gabriele Limberti, said he was inundated with hundreds of hate mails and messages. His statement on Instagram said, “I am not in a position to comment Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.”

“As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style. As usual for a commercial shooting, the direction of the campaign and the choice of the objects displayed are not in the hands of the photographer,” the statement added.

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