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 Christmas 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 images in the ad campaign without permission.
As a result, the public and media have “falsely and cruelly associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject matter,” the fashion house said in court documents. Balenciaga pulled the photos after an uproar on social media.
A representative for North Six declined to comment. A representative for Des Jardins did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Balenciaga on Monday reiterated its apology, saying in a statement that it takes “full responsibility for our lack of oversight and control over the documents in the background,” saying, “We could have done things differently.”
The fashion brand also apologized again for a separate ad campaign that showed children holding teddy bears dressed in what appeared to be bondage gear. The company has also removed these images.
The scandals led celebrity influencer and businesswoman Kim Kardashian to say she is reevaluating her relationship with Balenciaga.
Kardashian has been featured in a number of ad campaigns for the brand, led by CEO 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 responsibility for something that should never have happened in the first place.”
“The safety of children must be held in the highest regard, and any attempt to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society,” Kardashian said.
HSBC estimated in an April report that Balenciaga would generate around 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 anti-Semitic posts. Ye is Kardashian’s ex-husband.
By Angelina Rascouet, Jeannette Neumann
Kim Kardashian ‘reevaluates’ Balenciaga deal after Bondage Ad Crisis
The brand later said it was “carefully reviewing the organization” as it continues to face widespread backlash over a campaign featuring children modeling BDSM-inspired products.