Balenciaga designer apologizes for controversial ad depicting children with teddy bears in bondage

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Balenciaga's designer, known as Demna, posted a personal apology to Instagram Friday addressing the brand's recent advertising campaign that featured children holding teddy bear purses dressed in BDSM attire. 

"I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility," Demna wrote in the personal statement. "It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them."

Despite increased backlash against the brand and designer over the ad, Demna made no indication he plans to step aside. 

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Balenciaga's "Gift Shop" campaign, was published earlier this month, and showed kids holding handbags made from teddy bears in fishnet tops and leather harnesses. Wine glasses, chains and sunglasses were also displayed around the children. 

"As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a though through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period," the apology continued. "I need to learn from this, listen and engage with child protection organizations to know how I can contribute and help on this terrible subject." 

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"I apologize to anyone offended by the visuals and Balenciaga has guaranteed that adequate measures will be taken not only to avoid similar mistakes in the future but also to take accountability in protecting child welfare in every way we can," Demna's apology concluded. 

The social media backlash against the brand prompted critics to scour other Balenciaga ads and found that the 2023 "Garde Robe" campaign included paperwork from a 2008 Supreme Court case about child pornography.

A woman walks by a boarded up Balenciaga store, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, on Madison Avenue in New York. Protesters broke the window Monday night in reaction to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police ( (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) / AP Newsroom)

Following a social media firestorm, where critics accused the brand of sexualizing children and normalizing child pornography, Balenciaga issued an apology on social media and deleted all other posts. 

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"We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative," the statement read. "The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility."

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