Balenciaga Sues Production Company Behind Controversial Campaign for $25 Million USD

Seeking at least a quarter of a $100 million in damages from North Six Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins.

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Kering luxury fashion house Balenciaga has been in hot waters since it unveiled its controversial Spring 2023 campaign that included young children holding plush bear bags while wearing S&M-like harnesses, and another in which a page from a Supreme Court decision prohibiting child pornography was used in a set background.

Balenciaga is now suing the production company behind its Spring 2023 ad campaign. While the label is already facing condemnation over its campaign involving children, Balenciaga initiated a lawsuit last week in the New York State Supreme Court. Balenciaga is seeking damages of at least $25 million USD from production company North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins.

The Kering-owned luxury brand had hired North Six and Des Jardins to develop and produce the campaign for the Spring 2023 season. The said campaign featured actress Nicole Kidman and model Bella Hadid and was meant to showcase a corporate environment, staged to replicate a “Manhattan office space.” As a part of the set, a messy desk is featured with visible clutter from sheets of paper, including a page from the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Williams. In a statement provided to CNN from Balenciaga, this was a case “which confirms as illegal and not protected by freedom of speech the promotion of child pornography.” The court document claims that Balenciaga had no knowledge of the paperwork being included in the creative styling of the set and did not authorize the inclusion of the case in the background. Balenciaga’s statement to CNN states that 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 court filings have indicated that as a result of the defendants’ actions, “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.” Balenciaga is pushing for North Six and Des Jardins to be liable for “all harm resulting from this false association.”

However, Amelia K. Brankov, an attorney for Nicholas Des Jardins and his company said that “there certainly was no malevolent scheme going on. As Balenciaga is aware, numerous boxes of documents simply were sourced from a prop house as rental items.” In her statement she also claimed, “Moreover, representatives from Balenciaga were present at the shoot, overseeing it and handling papers and props, and Des Jardins as a set designer was not responsible for image selection from the shoot.” A North Six representative said that the production company “did not have creative input or control over the shoot. North Six was not on set during the final set arrangements.”

Balenciaga ambassador Kim Kardashian recently addressed the campaign on Sunday condemning their actions. She said that she is currently “re-evaluating” her working relationship with Balenciaga and that “The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period.”

In other fashion news, Edison Chen reflects on two decades of CLOT.

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