Balenciaga Faces More Backlash as Ad Campaign Features Book by Belgian Artist Whose Works Depict Castrated Toddlers as Brand Issues Apology

In his 2017–2018 series, Fire from the Sun, a group of young children are seen with some having blood stains on their skin.

More photographs from the now-axed Balenciaga ad campaign have emerged that question the prominence of a book by a Belgian artist whose work depicts castrated toddlers. Isabelle Huppert, a French actress, is pictured in two images from the company's now-canceled Spring '23 advertising campaign posing in a Manhattan office with a stack of books behind her.

This comes as Balenciaga on Monday said that it had no control over the props in the photoshoot where SCOTUS child porn documents were hidden behind a handbag as it sued the production company calling it responsible. However, the Spanish fashion house apologized for the "lack of oversight" and said BDSM bears in its ad campaign were a mistake.

Unending Controversy and Backlash

Balenciaga
The Balenciaga ad campaign shows French actress Isabelle Huppert posing in a Manhattan office with a stack of books behind her among which there is a book by a Belgian artist whose works depict castrated toddlers Twitter

The two photographs that are now being questioned show a book by a Belgian artist whose works depict castrated toddlers. The two photos from the now-axed Spring '23 advertising campaign of the company show Isabelle Huppert, a French actress, posing in a Manhattan office with a stack of books behind her.

One of the books in the stack celebrates Belgian painter Michael Borremans. The painter's work is varied but often includes children. In his 2017–2018 series, Fire from the Sun, a group of young children are seen with some having blood stains on their skin.

Michael Borremans
Michael Borremans' book that features in the ad Twitter

The toddlers in several of the images appear castrated.

There are also other clear parallels between Borremans' designs and some of Balenciaga's earlier creations, such as Kim Kardashian's appearance at the 2021 Met Gala in which she was covered in black cloth.

Balenciaga has not commented on anything regarding the Borremans book and how it ended up in its Spring '23 campaign.

Isabelle Huppert Balenciaga
The second photo from Balenciaga's ad campaign featuring Isabelle Huppert shows Michael Borremans' book Twitter

After the BDSM teddy bears issue, the photographs showing the book of his work were promptly pulled from the fashion brand's website this week. In those pictures, young child models were shown posing with glasses while holding the BDSM bears, which are actually fluffy handbags.

Apology at Last

Although Balenciaga didn't say anything about Borremans' book featuring in the photos, the Kering-owned fashion house issued an apology on Monday. The fashion brand took full responsibility for the ad campaign and apologized for its "lack of oversight."

Michael Borremans
One of the pictures from Michael Borremans' book Fire from the Sun depicts a child Twitter

"We would like to address the controversies surrounding our recent ad campaigns. We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative. The two separate ad campaigns in questions reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility," Balenciaga said in a statement.

"The first campaign, the gift collection campaign, featured children with plush bear bags dressed in what some have labelled BDMS-inspired outfits. Our plush bear bags and the gift collection should not have been featured with children. This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone," it said.

Balenciaga
Another of the controversial Balenciaga ads Twitter

The high fashion French brand also at the same time claimed that it had no control over the props in the photoshoot where the SCOTUS ruling on child porn documents was hidden behind a handbag, saying that it was the responsibility of North Six.

'The second, separate campaign for Spring 2023, which was meant to replicate a business office environment, included a photo with a page in the background from a supreme court ruling which confirms as illegal and not protected by freedom of speech the promotion of child pornography.

Balenciaga
Another of the controversial ads in the series from Balenciaga Twitter

"All the items included in this shooting were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents. They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama."

"The inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaga has filed a complaint.

"We take full accountability for our lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background and we could have done things differently."

This came as Balenciaga filed a $25 million lawsuit against production company North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his eponymous company on Friday.

Balenciaga  ad
One of the Balenciaga ads featuring a child holding a teddy bear that is in bondage Twitter

The company is also seeking redressal for damage done to its reputation as a result of the publication of the advertisement featuring its plush bear bags. They apologized for the situation on Instagram Stories, saying they take it "extremely seriously."

According to the complaint, Balenciaga alleges that North Six and Des Jardins included the court documents' photographs without consulting it, which was "malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless."

"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."

The adverts supported the brand's spring/summer 2023 collection and were released at Paris Fashion Week. However, the company immediately faced backlash for showing children partaking in bondage acts with teddy bears.

The luxury firm was involved in another argument last month after musician and fashion mogul Kanye West, who has frequently worked with the company's art director, made anti-Semitic threats.

The rapper's former girlfriend Kim Kardashian and her family are close friends of Balenciaga, who has severed ties with him.

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