Luxury fashion house Balenciaga has been in the limelight recently due to its poorly executed Spring 2023 ad campaign that showcased young children posing with their plush teddy bear bags that appeared to be wearing bondage-inspired outfits.
The luxury label sued production company North Six Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins, the third-party entity responsible for the campaign, for $25 million on November 25, 2022.
The Italian photographer who shot the campaign, Gabriele Galimberti, has also faced significant backlash for proceeding with the shoot despite its disturbing themes. He took to social media to release a statement, absolving himself of the blame.
Balenciaga campaign still under fire: Italian photographer faces backlash despite sharing his side of the story
Gabriele Galimberti was born in 1977 in Val di Chiana, Tuscany. The 45-year-old Italian photographer has been working on long-term documentary-style photo projects such as Toy Stories, In Her Kitchen, My Couch Is Your Couch, and The Heavens. These projects have been turned into books as well.
Galimberti has previously been featured in high-profile publications such as National Geographic, The Sunday Times, Stern, Geo, Le Monde, La Repubblica, and Marie Claire. He is also the recipient of the World Press Photo 2021 award in the “Portrait Stories” category for his project, THE AMERIGUNS.
Following the Balenciaga campaign scandal, Galimberti severed ties with the high fashion label and washed himself off all responsibility in a statement made on his social media pages. Despite that, netizens are not ready to vindicate him.
With the Balenciaga controversy still in effect, people are taking a closer look at Galimberti. People have found eerie similarities between the Balenciaga ad shoot and his photo series titled Toy Stories, wherein he photographed children from over 50 countries with their toy collections.
The set dressers for the luxury brand shoot appeared to set the scene in a similar way, but it was filled with hidden and unnecessary s*xual undertones.
What did Gabriele Galimberti say about his involvement in Balenciaga's Spring '23 campaign?
Galimberti released a multi-tweet statement in an attempt to absolve himself of blame. Both he and Balenciaga are refusing to take responsibility for the serious missteps and are pointing fingers at others. The photographer took to Twitter and claimed that he was in no position to direct the project.
"I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same. As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style."
He further stated that he was subject to "lynching" and that people are focusing on the wrong targets, distracting themselves from "real problems" and "criminals." He acquitted himself from the photo showing the Supreme Court documents on federal Child P*rnography Laws claiming that it was shot on another set by another team.