Balenciaga has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the producers of a controversial ad campaign that included a child pornography court ruling and BDSM teddy bears, new court papers show.
The fashion house brought the suit Friday against production company North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his eponymous company for the inclusion in one of the ads of legal documents from a US Supreme Court decision on child porn laws.
The fashion brand ad also showed unsettling pictures of a child holding teddy bears dressed in bondage outfits. The two-page court summons doesn’t mention the BDSM teddy bears.
Balenciaga is bringing the case “to seek redress for extensive damages defendants caused in connection with an advertising campaign Balenciaga hired them to produce,” the Manhattan Supreme Court summons alleges.
Balenciaga claims North Six and Des Jardins included the images of the court docs without its knowledge – which was “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless,” the filing states.
“As a result of Defendants’ 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,” the court papers charge. “Defendants are liable to Balenciaga for all harm resulting from this false association.”
The advertisements came out at Paris Fashion Week and supported the company’s spring/summer 2023 collection.
On Tuesday, the company issued an apology and announced it had pulled the teddy bear ads.
“We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms,” read the statement posted on Instagram.
Amid scrutiny of the contentious campaign, one eagle-eyed watchdog spotted the high court documents about child pornography laws.
The company also apologized “for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign,” and said it is “taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot.”
“We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children’s safety and well-being,” the company concluded.
Meanwhile, the photographer of the bear ad, Gabriele Galimberti, wrote on Instagram he wasn’t in control of the “direction of the campaign and the choice of the objects displayed.”
Last month, the luxury brand became embroiled in another dispute after rapper and fashion entrepreneur Kanye West — who has collaborated with the company’s art director several times – made anti-Seminitic threats.
Balenciaga, which has close ties with the rapper’s ex Kim Kardashian and her family, has also cut ties with him.