Luxury fashion house Balenciaga is suing the production company behind the Spring 2023 ad campaign after one of the images was found to contain paperwork related to a Supreme Court ruling on child pornography.
According to the subpoena, Balenciaga hired North Six and Des Jardins to develop and produce the Spring 2023 campaign.
It said the campaign, which included actor Nicole Kidman and model Bella Hadid, was intended to mimic a corporate environment, with shots staged in a “Manhattan office space.”
The court document alleges that Balenciaga, which is owned by French luxury group Kering, had no knowledge of and did not authorize the inclusion of this particular piece of paperwork.
In his statement to CNN, Balenciaga said that “all items used in these shootings were provided by third parties who have confirmed in writing that these props were false office documents. They turned out to be genuine legal documents most likely from the filming of a television .” drama.”
Balenciaga said in the subpoena that it believes the “unexplained acts and omissions of the defendants were malicious or, at the very least, grossly reckless.”
The lawsuit alleges that, as a result of the defendants’ actions, “members of the public, including the news media, have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repugnant and deeply disturbing subject matter of the court decision.” North Six and Des Jardins should be held liable for “all damages arising out of this false association”.
Amelia K. Brankov, an attorney for Nicholas Des Jardins and his company Nicholas Des Jardins LLC, said in an emailed statement to CNN that “certainly there was no malicious scheme going on. As Balenciaga knows, countless boxes of documents have been simply sourced from a prop house as rental items.”
“In addition, Balenciaga representatives were present at the shoot, overseeing it and handling the paperwork and props,” Brankov’s statement continued, “and Des Jardins as set designer was not responsible for the shoot’s image selection.”
A North Six representative said the production company had “no creative input or control over the shoot. North Six was not on set during final set arrangements.”
As it continues its own investigation into the matter, Balenciaga said it takes responsibility for its lack of oversight and control over the campaign footage.
“We are strengthening the structures around our creative processes and validation steps. We want to ensure that new controls mark a pivot and prevent this from happening again,” it said in a statement. “Balenciaga reiterates its sincere apologies for the offense we committed and apologizes to talents and partners.”
Balenciaga also expressed widespread outrage and condemnation over another recent campaign in which children hugged stuffed teddy bears in fetish wear.
“We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intention to include it in our story,” the company said. “Our plush bear bags and the Gift collection should not have been featured in children. This was a wrong choice on Balenciaga’s part, coupled with our failure to review and validate images. The responsibility for this rests solely with Balenciaga.”
Kardashian said she is “re-evaluating” her working relationship with Balenciaga and that as a mother she was “shocked by the disturbing images”.
“I am not in a position to comment on Balenciaga’s choices, but I must emphasize that I had no right in any way to choose the products, nor the models, nor the combination thereof… usual, the direction of the campaign and the shots are not in the hands of the photographer.”
Both North Six and a Nicholas Des Jardins LLC representative said they were not involved in the plush bear campaign.