Saturday, December 3, 2022

On that horrific week Balenciaga just had

Not even sure how to start this post. Maybe with just the facts.
Balenciaga just had a horrific week. It released two - unrelated - campaigns. One called holiday campaign where children were seen holding toy bear bags in harnesses while the kids were surrounded by sadomasochistic paraphernalia and the other of Isabelle Huppert with some legal documents behind her on the table. A printout of the 2008 United States v. Williams decision, which ruled on the constitutionality of a law prohibiting the pandering of child porn is found underneath a Balenciaga bag which mind you retails at $3000.
Balenciaga designer Demna (who now goes without his family name - which is Gvasalia) was slated to receive the Global Voices award from respected fashion industry website Business of Fashion at their BoF Voices gathering this week, but the award was rescinded. Kim Kardashian who even walked in the brand's couture fashion show was said to be re-evaluating her ties with the brand after being one of their most recognizable faces. Actually, this must have been such a slow news day because Fox News Tucker Carlson jumped on the bandwagon of "cannibalistic pedophile" storyline. Apparently, Miss Kardashian had an offer to continue fronting the house in 2023 – the offer according to fashion sources came prior to the scandal – but in the wake of the controversy she refused it (and was slated to wear several looks by the brand for different events but changed her outfit choice).
Interestingly, fashion sites were a little torn on the matter. Remember, these fashion houses butter their bread so it is only understandable. And Balenciaga itself did not handle the crisis correctly, first suing the production house of one of the ads, then later – which means several days later – accepting the blame on the scandal. Of course, in crisis time, “several days later” is close to decades later when your brand name is trending everywhere on social media.
Now, of course, this being social media, people started connecting several dots together. The company that owns Balenciaga is actually Kering (which also owns Gucci which just parted with its head designer Alessandro Michele, but this is digressing) which is 41.7% owned by Artemis. Now Artemis is controlled by the Pinault family (François-Henri Pinault, the head of the family is married to actress Salma Hayek if you wish to know) and Mr. François-Henri sits on the board of auction house Christie’s, and Chiristie’s sells the work of British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman who have sculptures that replace children’s heads with genital organs.
Balenciaga also have dealt heavily with Stylist Lotta Volkova, but their last collab dates back to 2018. Now Miss Volkova apparently had to change her Instagram to private following harassment by people who saw “questionable” (in their lexicon pedophilic) art on her page there.
You see how far and wide this is reaching?
Naturally, the major mistake Balenciaga did was – simply not owning up to their mistake, no matter if they were at fault or not. The brand thrived on controversy that is for sure: The completely destroyed Paris Sneakers? The “trash bag” bags made from the softest leather? The completely outré fashion shows? The triple S sneaker which was a total sensation for years and years?
Of course, at some point – just like Gucci – novelty tends to either become the norm or simply goes too far. There have been questions by serious industry sites in the line of “can Balenciaga ever come back?”.
Well let me tell you this, this week a brand you might have heard of called Dolce & Gabbana took over Miami – at a time when Art Basel Miami is taking place. And in May 2022, they hosted the wedding of Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker in Italy – a coup that netted them 35 million Dollars in free media impressions when the whole wedding must have cost just 1 Million.
Why am I mentioning this? Because – a long, long time ago (again, time is relative!) in 2018 – Stefano Gabbana had been widely reported to have written someone (who produced screenshots of the conversation) that China is a "country of [five poop emojis]" and "ignorant dirty smelling mafia." In case you are not aware, China is literally the biggest market for luxury brands.
Following the controversy there were questions by serious industry sites in the line of “can Dolce & Gabbana ever come back?” (yes, I repeated the same sentence above for a purpose, thank you for noticing).
Wait, it gets better – do you know the story of Patrizia Gucci who hired an assassin to kill her husband? Her husband being no other than the scion of the renowned Gucci family (funnily now owned by Kering!). Am sure at the time there were questions “will Gucci ever come back?”. It did come back to the tune of 10 Billion Dollar annual sales. The story was actually the backbone of the film House of Gucci with Lady Gaga in the role of Patrizia.
Side note - have you heard of the shady reasons of why a certain designer by the name of Coco Chanel was the only non-German resident of the Ritz hotel during the second world war? I wonder if the brand she founded ever "came back"...
Heck even the normally blameless Prada released a keychain which was later pulled from the market for analogies of "blackface".
Just like Dolce & Gabbana came back, Balenciaga will too.
And those people “boycotting” Balenciaga and up in arms on social media about the brand? Well, these are the same people who cannot afford to buy the brand to begin with. So calm down, the brand will come back – sure, they could have handled the crisis better no matter whose “fault” it is (at this point Balenciaga has initiated a lawsuit against the production company of the ad that contained questionable legal documents but now dropped it).
At the end of the day, it's your logo on the ad, so take ownership of it.