Sure, a man named “Demna” may be the creative director for a fashion ad campaign that was as close to child pornography without being child pornography as we’ve ever seen, but at least he’s learned his lesson.
The creative director at fashion house Balenciaga issued a mea culpa on Instagram on Friday, that appeared to indicate he would be remaining in his position at the company, but assuring everyone he would do better and listen to victims’ groups and yadda yadda yadda.
The pro forma apology from Denma — the 41-year-old native of the former Soviet republic of Georgia dropped his surname Gvasalia because apparently he wasn’t already enough of a fashion cliché before that — said that it was a “wrong artistic choice.”
You don’t say. Roughly two weeks ago, the fashion house became embroiled in a global controversy after a series of ads featured young girls holding teddy bears attired in bondage gear. In one of the shots, a girl is pictured lying on a couch. In front of her is a table with empty wine glasses on it.
That wasn’t all of it. Some of it was less overt, as Michael Brendan Dougherty pointed out at National Review:
“Recent ad images for Balenciaga also featured, in the background, a coffee-table book by painter Michaël Borremans, whose work includes images of castrated toddlers. Another photo taken in an office incorporates a diploma made out to John Philip Fisher, the name of a man convicted in 2018 for molesting his granddaughter,” he wrote.
“Another image, with a child standing in a messy room, featuring a teddy bear in fishnets, has warning tape with the word ‘BAALENCIAGA,’ a play on the name of the brand and the name of the Old Testament Canaanite god who demanded child sacrifice.”
As the controversy erupted, Balenciaga promptly threw senior stylist Lotta Volkova, the woman reportedly behind the photo shoots for the campaign, under the bus. It didn’t help Volkova’s position that she has a whole social media account full of creepy pictures full of satanic imagery, torture and child mutilation.
That said, Denma mea culpa is a master class in refusing to take responsibility for the biggest high fashion scandal in recent memory.
“I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility,” Demna wrote on Instagram. “It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them.”
However, Denma’s statement about “responsibility” notably didn’t mention leaving his presumably well-paid post with Balenciaga. It insisted the campaign was merely designed to “provoke a thought.”:
“I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. Period,” he wrote.
“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.”
And then came the ultimate weasel-worded apology: The passive-aggressive kind of think we’ve all heard before from too many people in public life. It sounds like, “sorry if you had a problem with my mistake — not to say it’s a mistake, just saying that I’m sorry you had a problem with it.”
Here’s what Denma wrote:
“I apologize to anyone offended by the visuals. 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.”
Oh, so he wasn’t offended by the most blatant child-grooming to ever come from the fashion industry, including those creepy Calvin Klein underwear advertisements from the 1990s — but if you were offended, you have his sympathies. Again, a reminder: This guy is apparently keeping his job.
And as for the whole “Balenciaga has guaranteed that adequate measures…” etc., etc. nonsense, I refer back to Dougherty’s National Review piece, in which he examines the absurdity of this being some kind of lack of oversight at one of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses:
“The brand is practically pretending that they never saw the photos before they were published across all their brand channels, when anyone familiar with the fashion world knows that top executives and legal counsel would have vetted and signed off on every pixel before they were published.”
Unless the outrage refuses to die down, this is how it will end: A few twisted individuals will serve as the scapegoats for a fashion concern’s evil and depraved campaign, while the rest of Balenciaga’s corporate grooming enablers will face no consequences.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.