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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

Balenciaga Creative Director, Demna, Weirdly Apologizes for 'BDSM Kids' Ad Campaign

The "it wasn't my intention" sort-of sorry comes nearly two weeks after backlash erupted over the photos.

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Image for article titled Balenciaga Creative Director, Demna, Weirdly Apologizes for 'BDSM Kids' Ad Campaign
Photo: Patrick McMullan (Getty Images)

Almost two weeks after the Balenciaga bondage bear scandal, the fashion brand’s creative director Demna Gvasalia, who goes simply by Demna, has finally spoken out about the bizarre and disturbing campaign. The Georgian fashion designer, who has helmed the brand since 2015, posted an apology on Instagram on Friday for his “wrong artistic choice of concept,” saying that he will learn how he can “help.”

“It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them,” Demna said in the post. “As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn.”

He posted a version of the now-classic celeb line, promising to “learn from this, listen and engage with child protection organizations to know how I can contribute and help on this terrible subject.” I’m very curious: How exactly does he expect to “contribute” to the fight for “child protection,” other than, perhaps, never again creating creepy ads referencing child abuse?

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While the experts he’s sure to half-heartedly consult will, I’m sure, have more to say on the topic, I can humbly offer Demna a Sparksnotes version for his quick reference: Child abuse and pornography = bad!

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The fashion house came under fire last month when it launched an ad campaign featuring children holding stuffed bears wearing bondage outfits. One image also had, in the background, the text of a Supreme Court decision relating to child pornography. Backlash was swift: A handful of celebrities have furiously bid adieu to their Balenciaga collections, while Kim Kardashian, one of the brand’s biggest endorsers, said that she’ll be “re-evaluating” her relationship with the company.

Unlike Demna, Balenciaga itself was quick to issue an apology, and took the campaigns down overnight. The brand also filed a $25 million lawsuit against the production company in charge of the photoshoot—North Six, Inc.—and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins for including the Supreme Court docs in Balenciaga’s “hourglass” purse ad. But pointing fingers this far down the line doesn’t make that much sense, with many putting the blame on Demna.

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There’s no shortage of “it was never my intention...” apologies out there, and while we know that they’re rarely sincere, that excuse falls even more flat in this scenario. You either were trying to be provocative in this scenario and the line you crossed to do so is one that no healthy adults are willing to do, or you weren’t. I’m calling bullshit on the “intentions” here.

And it seems I’m not alone: Former modeling agent and fashion magazine photo editor Olga Liriano has all but rolled her eyes at Balenciaga’s lawsuit. “Oh please, Demna doesn’t put out one image that he hasn’t approved,” Liriano told the Post. “Demna is not only the creative director, he’s driving all the imagery behind the campaigns. To blame a production company is nuts.” The Daily Mail reports that other fashion insiders think Demna has simply become “too big for his britches,” a problem that no designer of any talent can fix.

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Amidst the scandal, Demna’s words from an October interview with Intersections: The Art Basel Podcast, ring a little differently. “I no longer think about making the fashion industry understand what I do. I just do it,” he said then.

I’m pretty sure we get it dude. And it’s creepy as hell.