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Balenciaga designer, CEO apologize for controversial ads

The label's advertising campaigns featured inappropriate imagery and props involving children

Kim Kardashian and Demna Gvasalia in black at the 2021 Met Gala in New York City.
Kim Kardashian and Demna Gvasalia in black at the 2021 Met Gala in New York City. (REUTERS)

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French fashion house Balenciaga's creative director and chief executive officer both apologized Friday for an advertising campaign that sparked criticism on social media over accusations that it featured inappropriate imagery involving children.

The storm over the campaign led reality television star Kim Kardashian to review her ties with the label.

Also read: What Balenciaga controversy says about how fashion works

"I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids," said creative director Demna Gvasalia, known as Demna, in a message posted on Instagram.

Separately, the Kering-owned label issued a statement signed by CEO Cedric Charbit outlining new internal processes, including naming an "image board" to evaluate content.

The label drew fire in recent weeks over two separate campaigns that were posted online. One last month, advertising a gift collection, featured a handbag in the form of a stuffed teddy bear in bondage-style straps, held by children.

A second, separate campaign for the label's spring 2023 collection, set in an office, included papers featuring text from a 2008 Supreme Court ruling relating to child pornography.

In a statement earlier this week, Balenciaga apologized and said that investigations into the ad campaigns were ongoing. It said the papers featuring the legal text on child pornography were props from a third party and that it had filed a complaint against the inclusion of the "unapproved documents."

In Friday's statement, Charbit said the label had decided not to pursue litigation.

"I want to personally reiterate my sincere apologies for the offense caused and take my responsibility," said Charbit.  

Also read: Balenciaga removes ads showing kids with bondage teddy bears

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