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Inside the Balenciaga paedo scandal, which could see the fashion label worn by Kim Kardashian and Dua Lipa implode


IT’S the fashion house that flogged an Ikea bag, crocs with heels and a beat-up pair of trainers for thousands — and A-listers couldn’t wait to get their hands on its outlandish creations.

But Spanish brand Balenciaga faces fury over its latest marketing campaign which involves kids holding teddy bear bags decked out in bondage gear.

Balenciaga’s biggest star signing Kim Kardashian yesterday broke six days of silence and called the stunt ‘disgusting’
Amber Davies in another Balenciaga outfit
A young girl is pictured holding a teddy bear in bondage-style gear on the gift shop section of the Balenciaga website
Jam Press/Balenciaga

Even more shockingly, one photoshoot revealed paperwork from a US law battle over child pornography hidden beneath a black bag.

Balenciaga’s biggest star signing Kim Kardashian yesterday broke six days of silence and called the stunt ‘disgusting’.

She has been the face of the brand since February and in March turned up at Paris Fashion week wearing one of its most outlandish designs, a catsuit made of yellow Balenciaga-branded tape which left her barely able to walk.

At last year’s Met Gala Kim was mocked in memes for looking like a dementor from Harry Potter’s world after turning up in an all-black ensemble by the brand which even covered her face.

Despite the strange get-ups and even more outrageous price tags — a simple logo T-shirt sells for £535 — celebrities have been queuing to get their hands on the designs.

Fans include British singer Dua Lipa, who has walked the Milan fashion week catwalks in a Balenciaga dress, Kim’s ex, rapper Kanye West, Rita Ora, Love Island stars such as Oliva Attwood and Molly-Mae Hague, Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman and model Naomi Campbell. Footballers including Jack Grealish have also worn the brand.

Five-toe boots

But experts say it could all now end in tears for the label which loves to court controversy.

Its Christmas campaign for its teddy handbag features young kids with bears that are dressed in S&M-style harnesses with chains and chokers.

The ads were vilified on social media and the company was quick to issue an apology, saying it condemned child abuse in any form.

Hours later it was revealed one of the photos in the shoot contained an excerpt from a 2008 Supreme Court judgment which upheld part of a child pornography law.

The brand has failed to sack anyone at the top, reportedly first blaming the photographer Gabriele Galimberti, then the set crew.

It will take action against neither.

But it has now filed a $25million lawsuit against the producers who came up with the ads, North Six Inc, as well as New York set designer Nicholas Des Jardins, claiming legal notes were purposefully included in the shoot calling it ‘malevolent, or at the very least, extraordinarily reckless’.

 PR gurus are baffled by the legal move.

James Herring, an expert in consumer brands and PR, and co-founder of the agency Taylor Herring, said the firm would lose customers.

He said: “You would expect that a huge luxury brand like Balenciaga would have the appropriate checks and balances, with its different agencies and territories around the world to make sure something like this absolutely does not happen

“It strikes me as very odd they would take legal action against any agencies involved when a brand of this size would clearly have a lot of steps and procedures to make sure work is signed off properly.

“They have tried to push boundaries and provoke outrage and convention, that’s a strong part of their brand, but it seems desperate that anyone would go to these extremes.

“It might be Balenciaga hallmark to defy convention, but on this occasion they have gone beyond the limits of taste and decency.

“There’s nothing to be gained by this ad campaign.

“When a major brand ambassador like Kim Kardashian speaks out against it, considering she will be under contract not to talk about the brand in this way, shows how big the problem is.”

Model Bella Hadid quickly deleted her Balenciaga fashion shoot from her Instagram account after the scandal broke.

Controversy is nothing new to the brand but outraged parents blasted the firm over the bears.

One wore spikey leather bracelets around its arms and legs while another was dressed in a mesh crop top with a chain and padlock around its neck.

Mums took to social media to call it “creepy” and “weird” and “unsettling.”

Balenciaga has constantly pushed the barriers of fashion with its often-mocked designs.

The Balenciaga bag that looks like a supermarket carrier costs over £2,000
Balenciaga’s tatty-looking old trainer boots it dubbed the ‘Paris sneaker’ sold for £1,500
These ‘Crocs with a heel cost £450 from the brand and are worn by the like of Katie Price

It sold crocs with a heel for £450 – worn by the likes of Katie Price – tatty-looking old trainer boots it dubbed the ‘Paris sneaker’ for £1,500 and it started a trend with five toe boots that went for £895

But it gained notoriety for selling a leather dupe of Ikea’s famous blue 99p shopping bag .

Creative designer Demna Gvasalia said the inspiration came from his university years when he used to shop at the Swedish flat-pack store.

Other style oddities include a ‘two look’ top which looked like a t-shirt with a work shirt pinned to it at a cost of £1000 and a shredded hoodie.

It collaborated with Adidas this year for a bizarre mix of sports and fetish-type gear with models gracing the catwalk in what can only be described as rubber gimp masks.

The company’s history is also steeped in controversy after its namesake founder Cristobal Balenciaga was accused of being successful in Nazi-occupied Paris during WW2 due to his friendship with Hitler’s ally, General Franco.

It’s said he designed dresses for Franco’s wife before the war and decades later came out of retirement to design a wedding gown for the fascist leader’s granddaughter.

However, when Hitler asked him to relocate the French fashion industry to Berlin, he is reputed to have refused saying: “He might just as well take all the bulls to Berlin and try and train the bullfighters there.”

Balenciaga’s designs, based on structured dresses and voluminous looks never seen in the industry in the 50s, were a world away from today’s shocking creations.

PR consultant and author Mark Borkowski said the fashion industry was always trying to “push the envelope” but called the teddy campaign and “utter catastrophe.”

He said: “Time does tend to heal but Balenciaga needs to deal with this quickly.

“Nobody seems to have gone at senior level and the fact they are throwing people under a bus is extraordinary.

“The longer this goes on the more damaging it is likely to become.”


By Clemmie Fieldsend, Fashion Editor

BE it a bin liner for £1,500 or disturbing ads Balenciaga has been fooling us for years – but finally it’s got its comeuppance.

The brand has been worn by silver screen icons Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly and today every A-lister has something Balenciaga, 

Under the Kering group headed by French fashion tycoon Francois Pinault, the brand has amassed millions, but their new campaign reveals how little they care about the people working for them and those who buy their clobber. 

The gall to have so many overpaid and overly entitled people approve such a campaign is disgusting. 

Following Kim’s social media post declaring she’s thinking about whether to endorse the brand or not, I hope stars such as Nicole Kidman and Dua Lipa also give the brand a re-think. 

Because without a string of fashion ponies behind them, their brand doesn’t stand a chance. 

If celebs weren’t endorsing their tat or wearing their clothes on the red carpet, no one would spend two months wages on an Ikea bag or dirty trainers, because they’re hideous. 

Hopefully the outrage from shoppers calls for change and gives bosses the high-heeled boot. 




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