Balenciaga under fire for posing kids with BDSM props; blames it on the photographer

Nov 25, 2022

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Balenciaga under fire for posing kids with BDSM props; blames it on the photographer

Nov 25, 2022

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Fashion brand Balenciaga recently ran a controversial and bizarre holiday campaign – to say the least. The photos featured children posing with teddy bears dressed in BDSM gear. After an angry internet mob attacked Balenciaga, the brand reportedly blamed it on the photographer and the set crew, even threatening with lawsuits.

It started when Balenciaga published the campaign to promote its Spring/Summer 2023 collection. The photos were taken by Gabriele Galimberti, following the style of his Toy Stories project with a super-inappropriate twist. Instead of their favorite toys, the little ones pose with teddy bears dressed in bondage gear.

Expectedly, the campaign caused some serious backlash. People called out the “disgusting brand” for “sexualizing children” and “using kids to promote adult content.” Someone also noticed that some of the photos were taken on a pile of court documents about “virtual child porn.” Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

Shortly after the backlash, Balenciaga issued a statement on Instagram. They removed the campaign from all the platforms and deleted all the photos from Instagram. And I mean all, not just those from the controversial campaign. In the statement, the fashion company apologizes for both the teddies and the documents, claiming that the “plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this 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 photo shoot,” the statement reads further. “We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being.”

After the scandal, Galimberti spoke out as well. In a statement on Instagram, the photographer said that he was “not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same” for the photo shoot. “As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to [light] the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style.”

He added that he had nothing to do with the photo where the court documents appeared, claiming that it was taken by someone else in a different set. Galimberti said that he’d received hundreds of hate emails and messages after the campaign was launched, so he felt compelled to make the statement.

“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.

I suspect that any person prone to pedophilia 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 and was falsely associated with my photos.”

Maybe Balenciaga went for the “even bad publicity is still publicity” kind of marketing, but placing children in this context is wrong on so many levels. Also, who is to blame when a campaign like this goes public? Certainly not the people who created the set or the photographer who took the photos.

First of all, the photographer most often doesn’t have a say in campaigns like this. They’re only there to light the scene and take photos, as Galimberti pointed out. The person who created the sets probably doesn’t have all their marbles – but they’re not responsible either. After the shoot, a bunch of executives still need to see every photo and decide whether the campaign should run or not. I don’t know who in their right mind approved it, but the photographer certainly isn’t the one towards whom people should direct their anger.

[via PetaPixel]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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6 responses to “Balenciaga under fire for posing kids with BDSM props; blames it on the photographer”

  1. Marco Rabadan Avatar
    Marco Rabadan

    The amount of prep and the amount of eyes this has to go though before it hits the web gives them no excuse.

  2. Bart Ros Fotografie - Fotograaf Deventer & Overijssel Avatar
    Bart Ros Fotografie – Fotograaf Deventer & Overijssel

    This is why they took it down. They knew what they where doing

  3. Kassandra Langley Photography Avatar
    Kassandra Langley Photography

    Blames it on photographer but there are parents … and assistants and so many different people all there. Gtfo

  4. Caroline Rose Photography Avatar
    Caroline Rose Photography

    Uhhhh…. No. The photographer didn’t plan the shoot, the creative marketing team did. Don’t even try to pin this on someone else. Your marketing team effed up.

  5. Klee Scott77 Avatar
    Klee Scott77

    Obviously the parents have to give consent which makes you wonder what kind of parents she has.

  6. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    Well if trump gets away doing the blame game, why not…