Balenciaga's Designer Offers Apology Over Child Abuse Ads but It Has Some Major Issues

Guests attend Elie Saab Spring/Summer 2019 ready-to-wear fashion collection presented in Paris, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the Balenciaga controversy around its latest ad campaign, the long and short of it is that the high-end fashion brand utilized imagery that heavily circulated around the abuse of children, specifically sexual abuse. It also made references to Baal, the Canaanite god that people sacrificed children to.


After the ad campaign blew up the company’s face, the brand apologized profusely and even went so far as to say they were opening up a lawsuit against the designer of the ads.

(READ: Balenciaga Apologizes for Its Disgusting Child Sexualization Ad, but Are They Really Sorry?)

Now, it would appear the designer himself, a man known simply as “Demna,” has come forward and offered his own apology, but reading the apology gives you more questions than answers.

The apology was posted to the designer’s Instagram and, in full, reads:

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.

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.

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.


Immediately, some odd things stand out.

For one, he said he would “NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn.”

The thing is, looking at the details of his work you can see that intention was everything. Certain elements of the shoot required some very deep and purposeful thought, including the references to Baal, court documents referring to a child porn case in the Supreme Court, and references to a painter who made a series of nude toddlers cannibalizing other toddlers. That’s not even talking about the teddy bears dressed in BDSM gear.

It’s very hard to believe anyone would put all that detail into a photoshoot blindly. The court documents in the photo shoot were put in there in just the right way so that you can clearly make out what the case was and the BDSM bears were incredibly hard to miss.

It makes the remaining part of his apology seem like someone just saying things he thinks people want to hear. Even the part about learning from this and listening to others seems like a cliche line from those about to face total cancelation. Moreover, apologizes if anyone was offended, which is the same thing as saying “sorry you’re mad” and not “sorry I did what I did.”


He may very well just be bad at apologizing and he truly is sorry, but acting like it wasn’t his intention to create the art that he did is so hard to swallow that it may as well be impossible. So much in the shoot alludes to evil, and evil against children in particular.

Personally, I’m not sure I buy the apology. I could easily read it in a sarcastic tone and the wording would sound right. As far as I’m concerned, I’m willing to bet this man learned nothing and his future work will show that.


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