The appalling news of the November 16th, 2022, holiday campaign of Balenciaga, which featured children no older than six holding handbags with teddy bears in bondage gear containing leather harnesses and spiked collars, continues to reverberate. The corresponding office-themed campaign proved the imagery was deliberate as a photo from United States v. Williams, which upheld a ruling that child pornography was illegal and not protected by freedom of speech, was casually displayed.
In both pictures, the female toddlers are holding the bondage bears while staring bewildered into the camera – the highest level of exploitation. These unknowing children have been placed into the firestorm of controversy without a clue about their provocative surroundings. Balenciaga refuses to address the age of these two girls, nor why they were featured alone in an advertisement that wasn’t geared towards children; this is a major fashion house, not Baby Gap. Moreover, the children’s attire matched the teddy bear-they are one with the fetishized animal.
The storied history of Balenciaga has been eviscerated after being founded in 1919 by the Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga whose designs were lauded for his sense of proportion and measurement. He trained renowned couturiers Andre Courreges, Emanuel Ungaro, Hubert de Givenchy, and Oscar de la Renta. In 1968 Balenciaga surprisingly closed shop and died soon after in 1972. Balenciaga is considered one of the three greatest dressmakers of the 20th Century, alongside Vionnet and Chanel.
However, the label went dark until 1986 when French holding company Jacques Bogart SA, a designer of skincare and perfumes, bought the rights. The famed Nicolas Ghesquiere, Creative Director of Louis Vuitton Women, served as head of the house from 1997 to November 2012.
During that time, Kering, under Francois Henri Pinault and his Gucci group, acquired a 91 percent stake in Balenciaga in July 2001. Henri Pinault became CEO of his father Francois Pinault’s company in 2003 and has become a behemoth in the fashion industry.
Kering owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Boucheron, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Brioni, Qeelin, Pomellato, Tomas Maier, Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, Christie’s auction house and a 3,000 piece art collection comprised of Picasso, Mondrian, and Koons.
Henri Pinault’s net worth is estimated at a minimally $7 billion, with his father who started the company worth $50 billion with a yearly income of over a billion – his father is the 31st richest person in the world. Kering’s key competitor in the luxury industry is LVMH, which is run by 2nd richest man Bernard Arnault who is worth a cool $159 billion.
In October 2015, Pinault named Demna Gvasalia the new artistic director of Balenciaga to replace scandal-ridden Alexander Wang. Little is known about Demna except that he was born in the Georgia Republic in 1981 and attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where he received a Master’s degree in Fashion Design in 2006. After stints at Maison Margiela and Louis Vuitton, he founded Vetements with his brother in 2014 and skyrocketed to fame with his Balenciaga appointment.
Famous collaborations with Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman, Madonna, and Bella Hadid have transformed the brand to stratospheric levels – and. Despite being a private company, revenue has reportedly reached over a billion dollars in the past four years.
The enigmatic Demna is a recovering alcoholic who shuns publicity – preferring to lead a quiet life in Zurich with his husband-musician Loik Gomez. Paradoxically, Balenciaga eliminated all traces of its social media in July 2021 before its first haute couture show in 53 years, then left Twitter in November 2022 after Musk’s acquisition, and has been forced to defend itself on Instagram with a post claiming to “strongly condemn child abuse.”
Balenciaga filed a subsequent $25 million lawsuit against the production company North Six which produced the child pornography papers of US v. Williams. However, for the far more disturbing pictures of the young girls, Balenciaga has taken responsibility while never adequately addressing why tiny children were used and juxtaposed against S&M teddies.
The last frontier of inviolable principles in boundary-pushing fashion is protecting children at all costs. Yet, Anna Wintour and Vogue have lauded Demna in numerous articles. Collaborators Nicole Kidman, Bella Hadid, Madonna, Hailey Bieber, Dua Lipa, Julia Fox, Naomi Campbell, Alexa Demie, and dozens of other luminaries are vocal critics of anti-abortion rulings have failed to utter a peep when it comes to protecting living children.
As for Kim Kardashian, the most flagrant disappointment of all, she waited five days to say she was re-evaluating her relationship. The billionaire businesswoman who is the mother of four children should have quit her endorsement on day 1 – no matter what she does, her name has been sullied – it’s too little too late.Lieba Nesis
The question remains as to why Demna hasn’t been fired after unabashedly promoting Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, and Sadomasochism (BDSM) in his October 2022 Paris “mud show,” which featured bruised and bloodied models carrying fake babies sludging through the mud in a Nazi-esque scenario that was horrifically reminiscent of the concentration camps with dark uniforms and angry looking models.
His May 2022 fashion show at the New York Stock Exchange featured latex masks, and body suits were equally disturbing, with attendees remarking there should have been a trigger warning. Let’s not forget Kim Kardashian, who showed up with Demna to the September 2021 Met Gala in matching head-to-toe black outfits and face masks obscuring their identity – shame on them! Kim was brazen and publicity hungry enough to place her nine-year-old daughter North in a leather face covering in October during Paris Fashion Week despite its BDSM theme.
Demna usually dons a mask and admits to attending sex clubs and cruising sex dens. The news kept getting worse when yesterday it was revealed another Balenciaga ad featured a book by Michael Borremans, who is famed for showcasing castrated children. Moreover, their Chief Designer for years, Lotta Volkova, has taken her Instagram private after previously posting photos featuring mutilation, satanic themes, and violence, reportedly even against children (although this hasn’t been confirmed.)
It’s time to boycott all of Kering’s products and cancel celebrities who have failed to denounce and cut ties with Balenciaga. Firing Demna should have happened on November 16th. The fashion and entertainment industry must turn its back on any slight suggestion of pedophilia.
It’s hard to forget Netflix’s horrifying show “Cuties,” which sexualized prepubescent 11-year-old girls or the disturbing images of pornography with women dressed up as teenagers. At best, Balenciaga is asking us to make BDSM, the occult and satanic worship quotidian, and at worst, it’s asking us to wink at the implicit sexualization of toddlers. When disgraced anti-Semite Kanye West covers the Balenciaga name on his omnipresent $1,000 rain boots, you know you are in trouble.
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Thank you for all of this. The state of ‘fashion’ and its acolytes only grows more appalling and hideous by the day.
I love the depth of your fashion history knowledge and your intelligent way of telling its story.
You possess the INTEGRITY that is lacking in the fashion industry today.