Balenciaga's creative director has issued a personal apology for a controversial Christmas advertising campaign which sparked backlash from Kim Kardashian.
Amid a flurry of adverts for festive food and gift ideas, Balenciaga's holiday campaign featured children holding teddy bears dressed in bondage gear, while surrounded by an assortment of items including a spiked dog bowl and a love heart shaped chair.
It initially said the campaign 'iterates on the artist's series Toy Stories, an exploration of what people collect and receive as gifts', but before long the company apologised for causing offence with the controversial and shocking images.
Kardashian was among those who spoke out about the campaign after a few days of silence, which she said she needed to speak to Balenciaga's team 'to understand for [herself] how this could have happened'.
"As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images," she wrote. "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.
"I appreciate Balenciaga’s removal of the campaigns and apology. In speaking with them, I believe they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again."
Kardashian added that she was 're-evaluating her relationship' with the brand as a result of the campaign, which creative director Demna Gvasalia has now taken responsibility for.
In a message shared online, Gvasalia wrote: "I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility.
"It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them.
"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. Period."
Gvasalia said he needs to learn from the mistake, as well as 'listen and engage' with child protection organisations for knowledge on how he can 'contribute and help on this terrible subject'.
"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," he concluded.
The creative director also shared a statement from chief executive Cedric Charbit which said the company recognised 'the need to do better'.
Charbit added that Balenciaga had made moves to ensure better control over content in future, and that it would be donating 'a significant fund' to organisations which will help protect children.
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