More photos from a canceled Balenciaga campaign are being called into question today due to the notoriety of a book honoring a Belgian artist whose work includes images of castrated toddlers.
Two photos from the brand’s now-canceled Spring ’23 ad campaign show French actress Isabelle Huppert posing in a Manhattan office with a stack of books behind her.
Among the books is one that celebrates Belgian painter Michael Borremans. Borremans’ work is varied, but children appear regularly. His 2017/2018 series Fire from the Sun depicts a group of toddlers, some with bloodstains on their skin, in sinister composition.
In some images, the toddlers appear castrated.
Balenciaga has not commented on Borremans’ book or how it made it into the Spring ’23 campaign.
There are other obvious similarities between Borremans’ work and some of Balenciaga’s past designs — namely, Kim’s look at the 2021 Met Gala, where she appeared with black fabric covering her face.
In this image from Balenciaga’s scrapped Spring ’23 campaign, Isabelle Huppert sits in front of a stack of books, including one celebrating Michael Borremans, a Belgian painter whose work is known for depicting castrated toddlers
The artist Michael Borremans, showing his work in January 2020 in Prague. Right, one of the books with his works
The book images of his work were quickly pulled from the fashion brand’s website this week following the controversy over the BDSM teddy bears.
Those images showed young child models holding the bears — which are basically fuzzy handbags — posing around glassware.
In a statement on Monday, the brand again apologized for the bear campaign and took full responsibility.
“We would like to address the controversies surrounding our recent advertising campaigns. We strongly condemn child abuse; we never intended to include it in our story.
“The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grave errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.
“The first campaign, the gift collection campaign, featured kids with plush bear bags dressed in what some labeled as BDMS-inspired outfits. Our plush bear bags and the gift collection should not have been placed with children.
Other work by Borremans includes his 2017 series Fire From The Sun, in which castrated toddlers and babies hold things that resemble severed limbs as they play naked together in a large group.
Borremans’ Fire From The Sun series is his most graphic and features images of toddlers with blood on their skin
This is the book that is believed to be seen in the office photoshoot. It shows a woman on the cover with her face covered in black. Pictured right, Kim Kardashian’s Balenciaga Met Gala look in 2021, where she famously covered her face with a black cloth
Balenciaga’s latest statement acknowledges the teddy bear scandal, for which it takes responsibility, and the SCOTUS child porn ruling included in another photo, but it makes no mention of the Borremans book
“This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, coupled with our failure to review and validate images. The responsibility for this rests solely with Balenciaga,” it says.
But the fashion house claims that another controversial prop that ended up on set – a printout of a SCOTUS child porn ruling – was the fault of design production company North Six.
The second, separate Spring 2023 campaign, which was intended to mimic a corporate office environment, featured a photo with a page in the background of a Supreme Court ruling upholding the promotion of child pornography as illegal and not is protected by freedom of expression. .
“All items used in these shootings were provided by third parties who have confirmed in writing that these props were false office documents.
It turned out to be real legal papers that most likely came 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 responsibility for our lack of background oversight and control of the documents and we could have done things differently.”
Balenciaga’s lawyers filed a subpoena against North Six and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins last week, claiming they are responsible.
Balenciaga pulled back this holiday campaign featuring BDSM bears, wine and champagne glasses, after widespread backlash
This is July’s ad campaign featuring the print of the SCOTUS child pornography ruling
Des Jardins’ agent said he is considered a scapegoat and several Balenciaga staffers were present at the time of the shooting.
Others in the fashion industry agree.
Creative Director of Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia. He has not yet commented personally
Founded by Central Saint Martins students to represent talent in the fashion industry, Granary condemned Balenciaga’s response.
“Accountability only when successful – that seems to be Balenciaga’s mantra this week.
They want us to believe that Demna is the all-seeing divine genius who personally makes every creative decision in-house… but when a campaign is rightfully canceled, those remote workers suddenly find themselves to blame.
‘True leaders take responsibility. For their team’s mistakes and their own,” they said.
In the filing, Balenciaga’s lawyers blame the studio — which has used it several times in the past — for the controversy, without mentioning the bear controversy from earlier this week.
“As a result of the defendants’ misconduct, members of the public, including the news media, falsely and horribly linked Balenciaga to the repugnant and deeply disturbing subject matter of the court decision,” court documents reveal.
“Defendants are liable to Balenciaga for all damages resulting from this false association.”
The brand is now being boycotted by a handful of well-known customers.
Kim Kardashian, the prolific ambassador who is friends with creative director Demna Gvasalia, said she was “disgusted” by the images and was “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand.
Demna has not commented personally since the controversy erupted.