Many fashion critics have wondered when we would see Kardashian step out in something other than Balenciaga, with many arguing her collaboration with the brand has seen her aesthetic become repetitive and tedious.
In her statement, Kim has claimed she’s currently re-evaluating her relationship with the brand, so this campaign may see the end of her Balenciaga era as we know it.
“As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with - and the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children."
In case you missed it, Balenciaga has come under fire for featuring ‘easter eggs’ which the internet has called out for relating to or denoting child pornography.
YouTuber June Nicole Lapine was among the first to call the campaign out, “very purposely poorly hidden court document about 'virtual child porn'".
The first campaign was their Spring/Summer 2023 campaign which also featured their collaboration with Adidas. Starring Bella Hadid and French actress Isabelle Hupert, the campaign featured Balenciaga accessories in a “charged setting, acting out typified office behaviours, exemplifying boredom, aggression, stress, and self-satisfaction.”
A few elements of the campaign, however, caught the eye of the internet. Mainly a piece of paper which featured an expert of a Supreme Court case that upholds the pandering of child pornography not protected under the First Amendment.
A second campaign, called Balenciaga’s gift shop, advertised Balenciaga’s new object line and also earned the anger of the internet. This campaign featured a child model holding a bear that, once again, the internet claims to be wearing fetishwear.
Sure, the elements of the wardrobe can be associated with kink (including a harness and fishnet) and should not have been positioned in relation to the child model, but is this a signifier that Balenciaga is promoting the sexualisation of children as social media is so quick to substantiate?
The campaign’s intention apparently wasn’t to sexualise their models or indirectly promote child pornography, many were quick to conflate these elements in the shots as Balencaiga’s supposed hidden agenda. A theory that harkens back to the 2016 alt-right #pizzagate conspiracy.
Following the backlash, Balenciaga was quick to issue an apology for both campaigns, pull them both from circulation and even revealed that they are taking legal action against those responsible for featuring the documents.
“We apologize for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign. We take this matter very seriously and are 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 brand announced.
According to reports, Balenciaga have already begun legal action, filing a notice in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against North Six, the production company responsible for the advertisement featuring the Supreme Court document and its agent Nicholas Des Jardins.
Per reports, the summons cites that Balenciaga alleges that “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 a consequence, Balenciaga is allegedly seeking redress of “no less than 25 million”.
As for their gift shop campaign, Balenciaga apologized and admitted that the plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in the campaign.
The campaign's photographer, Gabriele Galimberti, has also spoken out about the backlash.
"Following the hundreds of hate mails and messages I received as a result of the photos I took for the Balenciaga campaign, I feel compelled to make this statement," he said on Instagram.
"I am not in a position to comment on Balenciaga's choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither choose 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.
"I suspect that any person prone to paedophilia searches on the web and has unfortunately a too easy access to images completely different than mine, absolutely explicit in their awful content. Accusations like these are addressed against wrong targets, and distract from the real problem, and criminals.
"Also, I have no connection with the photo where a Supreme Court document appears. That one was taken in another set by other people and was falsely associated with my photos."
So far, Balenciaga have only released the two aforementioned statements. The brand's parent company Kering is also yet to address the controversy.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, marie claire.