Balenciaga's Creative Director Said It Was The "Wrong Artistic Choice" To Depict Children With Teddy Bears In BDSM Gear

"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," Demna Gvasalia said.

Balenciaga's creative director has apologized for the brand's ad campaign featuring children holding teddy bears in bondage gear, saying it was the "wrong artistic choice."

The luxury fashion company ignited backlash with the photo shoot, which showed the young kids posing with stuffed bears clad in BDSM-style harnesses. An image from a separate Balenciaga campaign, which depicted papers scattered across a desk, was found to include documents about a Supreme Court case on child sex abuse materials.

Right-wing figures accused Balenciaga of being “groomers,” sexualizing kids, and promoting child sexual abuse materials. On Twitter, some said the photo shoot had “demonic” elements, like blackened eyes and the name of the demon “Baal.” Conservative commentators, including Tucker Carlson and Ben Shapiro, also used the controversy to make anti-trans and anti-gay remarks.

On Friday, Demna Gvasalia, the creative director for Balenciaga, issued an apology in an Instagram post.

"I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility," Gvasalia wrote. "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," he continued.

Gvasalia said he needs "to learn from this" and "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," he said, "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."

Gvasalia's apology — which did not specifically mention the photo with the court documents — came just over a week after the brand apologized and wiped the images from its website and social media.

Initially, the brand's apology only mentioned the photos with the teddy bears, saying its "plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign." In a separate post on Instagram about two hours later, the company also apologized "for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign."

"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," the brand said. "We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being.”

In another Instagram post on Friday, the brand said it has "decided not to pursue litigation." Days earlier, the company said that the court documents in the photo "were provided by third parties" to be "fake office documents" but "turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama."

In the post Friday, Balenciaga president and CEO Cédric Charbit announced the company would take additional steps going forward to evaluate its content and has "set aside a significant fund for grants to organizations" that help children.

"I want to personally reiterate my sincere apologies for the offense caused and take my responsibility," Charbit said. "At Balenciaga, we stand together for children safety and do not tolerate any kind of violence and hatred message."