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Balenciaga files $25M lawsuit vs ad production, set designer

by Leila Salaverria

BALENCIAGA has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the production company and set designer of its ad campaign that drew controversy for featuring a Supreme Court ruling on child pornography.  

The beleaguered fashion house filed the suit before the New York State Supreme Court on November 25 against production company North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins, according to US media reports.

The photo in question featured a bag and was for Balenciaga’s Spring 2023 ad campaign. In the background was a printout of the 2008 US Supreme Court ruling on United States v. Williams, which upheld the constitutionality of a law that said the promotion of child pornography is not protected by free speech.

Balenciaga was criticized for this ad at around the same time it came under fire for another ad campaign that showed kids carrying teddy bears wearing bondage outfits.

Balenciaga said it did not know about the inclusion of the Supreme Court ruling in the photoshoot. 

US reports quoted it as saying that North Six and Des Jardins’ actions were “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless.” 

Because of this, the public and the media “have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject of the court decision,” it reportedly said. 

“Defendants are liable to Balenciaga for all harm resulting from this false association,” it said. 

In a November 28 statement, Balenciaga said all items in the photoshoot came from third party providers who “confirmed in writing” that the props were fake office documents.

“They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama,” it said.

It also said the inclusion of the unapproved documents was “the result of reckless negligence.”

North Six, Inc. describes itself as a “highly-acclaimed, global collective of producers, content creators, and thinkers with twenty years of experience.”

“We pride ourselves on being leaders in the industry, setting standards, and pushing the boundaries of how we work and of the work we make,” it said.

Des Jardins is a set designer based in New York and Los Angeles.

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