Kering SA’s Balenciaga is seeking at least $25 million in damages from the production company behind an ad campaign that has made the luxury fashion house the target of fierce criticism at the start of the holiday shopping season.
Balenciaga filed a lawsuit Friday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan alleging that production company North Six Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins used documents related to a child pornography case in photos in the ad campaign without permission.
As a result, the public and the media “have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject,” the fashion house said in the court documents. Balenciaga withdrew the images following an uproar on social media.
A representative for North Six declined to comment. A representative for Des Jardins didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Balenciaga on Monday reiterated its apology and said in a statement that it takes “full accountability for our lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background,” saying, “We could have done things differently.”
The fashion brand also apologized again for a separate ad campaign that featured children holding teddy bears that were clad in what appeared to be bondage gear. The company has also removed those images.
The scandals led celebrity influencer and businesswoman Kim Kardashian to say she’s re-evaluating her relationship with Balenciaga.
Kardashian has been featured in numerous ad campaigns for the brand, led by Chief Executive Officer Cedric Charbit and whose creative director is Demna. Last year, she appeared at the Met gala in a full Balenciaga outfit that covered her face.
On Sunday, Kardashian told her 334 million Instagram followers that her future relationship with the brand will be based on its “willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with.”
“The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalize child abuse by any kind should have no place in our society,” Kardashian said.
HSBC estimated in an April report that Balenciaga generated about €1.76 billion euros ($1.82 billion) in sales in 2021.
The brand made headlines earlier this month when it stopped working with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, after he posted antisemitic posts. Ye is Kardashian’s ex-husband.
By Angelina Rascouet, Jeannette Neumann
Kim Kardashian ‘Re-Evaluating’ Balenciaga Deal After Bondage Ad Crisis
The brand later said it was “closely revising its organisation” as it continues to face widespread backlash over a campaign featuring children modelling BDSM-inspired products.