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Balenciaga Files $25M Lawsuit Over Court Doc Photobomb

Three days after apologizing for a bizarre and controversial advertisement featuring BDSM Teddy Bears in bondage gear held by young children, luxury fashion house Balenciaga went further in an offensive direction, suing the set designer of the commercials for $25 million.

The barely two-page document filed Friday in New York State Supreme Court informs set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his North Six Inc. production company of Balenciaga’s intent to sue him for tarnishing their brand.

“Inexplicable acts and omissions were malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless,” the document says. “As a result of Defendants’ misconduct, members of the public, including the news media, have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject of the court decision. Defendants are liable to Balenciaga for all harm resulting from this false association.”

The short document makes no mention of the imagery used in the campaign, only the allegedly surreptitious placement of U.S. Supreme Court documents from a 2008 case that addressed child pornography, under a BDSM Bag.

“Defendants, without Balenciaga’s knowledge or authorization, included certain documents in the campaign photographs, including an excerpt from a court decision upholding a criminal prohibition against child pornography,” the complaint says.

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Presumably, Balenciaga is targeting the hidden court documents as opposed to the offensive images because Balenciaga management almost certainly approved the ads.

The summons comes as criticism continues to pour in from all corners including Balenciaga models such as Kim Kardashian, who tweeted on Sunday, “As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images. 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.”

Kardashian also said she would be “re-evaluating” her relationship with Balenciaga more than a month since the company parted ways with Kardashian’s ex-husband Kanye West over his antisemitic comments.

Balenciaga’s apology last Tuesday all but promised legal action would be coming.

“We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot,” Balenciaga said as part of its apology. “We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children’s safety and well-being.”

Balenciaga said on Monday it would not, however, be taking any legal action against photographer Gabriele Galimberti after seeming to place much of the blame on his photos as criticism first arose.

The company also said it will not be suing photographer Chris Maggio, who took the picture that included the court documents.