Balenciaga Creative Director Demna Apologizes for ‘Inappropriate’ Campaign: ‘Child Abuse I Condemn — Period’

Demna Gvasalia attends the 2021 CFDA Fashion Awards at The Grill Room on November 10, 2021 in New York City.

Demna Gvasalia attends the 2021 CFDA Fashion Awards at The Grill Room on November 10, 2021 in New York City.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia is finally speaking out.

Nearly two weeks following the immense backlash against the label for sexualizing children in its “Balenciaga Gift Shop” campaign, the designer has taken to Instagram to issue an apology.

“I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility. It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them,” Gvasalia, 41, wrote.

“As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period,” he continued.

He ackowledged that he needs to “learn from this, listen and engage with child protection organizations” in order to “help on this terrible subject.”

“I apologize to anyone offended by the visuals and Balenciaga has guaranteed that adequate measures will be taken not only to avoid similar mistakes in the future but also to take accountability in protecting child welfare in every way we can,” he concluded.

The backlash began on Nov. 16, after the luxury fashion house released its holiday campaign.

Photographed by award-winning National Geographic photographer Gabriele Galimberti, the “Gift Shop” campaign showed children holding handbags designed with teddy bears dressed in leather harnesses and spiked collars with nearby wine glasses visible in some of the photos.

A previous “office” theme campaign, named Garde-Robe and not captured by Galimberti, included a photo with a page from a Supreme Court ruling of United States v. Williams in the background. That ruling deemed the promotion of child pornography illegal and not protected under freedom of speech.

On Nov. 24, Balenciaga released a statement on Instagram regarding the holiday ad, writing, “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.”

Hours later, the company released a second statement via Balenciaga’s Instagram story acknowledging the Garde-Robe campaign and apologizing for “displaying unsettling documents.”

Kim Kardashian, who’s held a close relationship with the brand and walked in its Paris Couture Fashion Week show in July, broke her silence regarding the controversy on Nov. 27.

“I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns,” she started in the statement on Twitter. “But because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened.”

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Kardashian, who is a mother of four to North, 9, Saint, 6, Chicago, 4, and Psalm, 3, said she was “shaken by the disturbing images” and that “the safety of children must be held with the highest regard, and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period.”

While acknowledging her appreciation for Balenciaga’s actions to remove and apologize for the campaigns, she noted that she would be “reevaluating my relationship with the brand.”