Balenciaga Fallout: Lawsuit Plus Finger-Pointing

Balenciaga Fallout: Lawsuit Plus Finger-Pointing

Balenciaga Fallout: Lawsuit Plus Finger-Pointing

The blowback from the ugliness of what high end fashion label Balenciaga promoted last week has been pretty strong. It seems neither side of the debate wants to be defending the company who put out an ad campaign with small children holding bondage teddy bears while United States v. Williams is sitting out on a table.

Balenciaga, after pulling the entire ad campaign an issuing an apology via Instagram, has gone into full CYA mode in order to protect their brand.

But who do they blame for this? The photographer who actually took the pictures attempted to explain that this was not his fault.

Gabriele Galimberti issued a statement on Instagram Wednesday morning after the inappropriate ad was pulled by the fashion house.”

“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,” Galimberti wrote.”

“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,” he continued.”

He explained that he was permitted only to light the prepared scene and shoot in his “signature style,” but noted that the “direction of the campaign and the choice of the objects displayed” were not in his control.”

Galimberti also claimed that he had no idea what kind of imagery is involved with child pornography (yeah, right) and he also claims that he didn’t take the picture with the Supreme Court child porn documents.

“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,” Galimberti said.”

Galimberti claimed that the “lynching” he has received is aimed at the wrong party “and distract from the real problem, and criminals.” He also made sure to note that he did not photograph the ad with the SCOTUS document.”

So Galimberti is protesting his innocence and accusing everyone else of having dirty minds, even though anyone with half a brain should have said, “wait, WHAT are we doing with these toddlers?” and that INCLUDES the parents who were on set and didn’t see anything wrong with the set up. And according to the Daily Mail, there was a second photographer who did take the pictures with the SCOTUS documents – and apparently there were two separate photo shoots. Galimberti dealt with the children and the bondage teddy bears, but the other photos that only featured Balenciaga items were done by a different photographer.

Those photos have been attributed to American photographer Chris Maggio, according to Newsweek. clarified that Maggio is also not going to face legal action.”

Maggio has worked on campaigns and with music artists, including directing a music video for 100 gecs. He has yet to respond to the controversy.”

The fashion house’s spokesperson went on to say that: ‘Chris Maggio was a photographer for the Spring 23 campaign. There is no legal action being taken against him. He did not create the set nor have anything to do with the unapproved items within it.”

And apparently, Balenciaga has decided to go after a bigger fish for their problems. They have filed a $25 million lawsuit to pin the blame for the entire fiasco on… the production company and set designer.

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.”

So, let me get this straight. Balenciaga is holding to the line that toddlers holding teddy bears wearing bondage gear is TOTALLY fine, but someone put those Supreme Court documents on that table and BY GOD, WE HAVE STANDARDS AND WILL NOT BE ASSOCIATED WITH THAT. Ooooooookay then. It’s a bold move, Cotton, let’s see how it plays out. Especially because more can be seen, as internet sleuths have continued to examine these images for more “find the child porn” fun.

The problem with picking a scapegoat to sue in court for damages is that there’s this thing called evidence. And someone, along the chain of evidence, is going to produce an email or a sworn statement that details whose freaking sick idea the entire campaign was, and then WHO SIGNED OFF ON IT. Does anyone really think that the production company and set designer, of their own volition, went with toddlers, the wine glasses, and decision for United States v. Williams WITHOUT anyone at Balenciaga knowing about it? That discovery door swings both ways, and someone at Balenciaga, even if they didn’t explicitly approve of the set design, signed off on the entire shoot, got all the photos together and chose what would go into the campaign, AND PUBLISHED THEM to their online platforms. The attempt to pass the buck to North Six, Inc., and Nicholas Des Jardins, is pretty much a fig leaf. At any point AFTER the photos had been submitted to Balenciaga, someone in their marketing department could have said, “This campaign looks like child pornography, and have you seen those teddy bears, or what those court documents say? We can’t put these out!” But no. Everyone with any authority in marketing at Balenciaga is apparently either too cowardly, insisted that it was “edgy” or “artistic license,” and/or went with it anyway because it was too expensive to re-shoot. But the blame has to go somewhere in order to protect their brand, so a lawsuit it is!

So, why the lawsuit in an American court? Hmmm, maybe this is why…
Oh boy. If Adidas gets tied to this, then Balenciaga could be looking at a lawsuit from THEM. Adidas, as the tweeter noted, has a whole lot more of a reputation to lose in the United States than Balenciaga does. Something tells me that we haven’t seen the end to the finger-pointing here.

Featured image: composite editorial graphic by Darleen Click

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  • NTSOG says:

    This is beginning to sound like the famous Abbot and Costello skit: “Who’s on First, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third, …” The more it goes on the more ‘players’ to be sued and counter sue will likely be found.

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  • Hate_me says:

    What am I missing?

    I don’t have any interest in photos of toddlers holding teddy bears dressed like Village People rejects, but I don’t understand why it’s some horrible evil.

    I’m assuming it was the bears, not the toddlers, in the bondage dress.

    • Crowdy Head says:

      What are you missing? Here’s a clue: it should be located midway between your ears. These photos are offering infant children to sexual deviants. As intended.

      • Hate_me says:

        By putting skimpy clothes on otherwise-naked teddy bears?

        • NTSOG says:

          I believe the issue was the pairing of images of very young children “holding bondage teddy bears” with an image or reference to a document issued by the US Supreme Court concerning “criminalizing the possession and distribution of material pandered as child pornography” in an advertisement. It is not a subtle message and is not just about ‘teddy bears’.

          • Hate_me says:

            As commentary, not content. It’s crass and abrasive, but a lot of modern art aims for that. It is not child porn, itself.

            It seems to have worked, too.

            The sensation it created has certainly earned the brand more recognition. The negative hype will die down and the brand will ultimately benefit.

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