Balenciaga's Paris Fashion Week Show Doesn't Ruffle Any Feathers Following "Inappropriate" Campaign

Balenciaga's creative director Demna cleaned up the brand's image for the autumn/winter 2023 collection with muted, understated looks, several months after its "inappropriate" ad campaign.

By Alyssa Morin Mar 06, 2023 7:40 PMTags
Watch: Balenciaga's Demna Gvasalia Apologizes for "Inappropriate" Campaign

Balenciaga has entered a new fashion era.

During its Paris Fashion Week show on March 5, the luxury brand stepped away from its signature style of polarizing clothes—like the eyebrow-raising face cover Kim Kardashian wore to the 2021 Met Gala or the Lays Potato Chip purses that debuted in October. Instead, Balenciaga is toning it down.

Taking a minimalistic approach to its autumn/winter 2023 collection, oversized blazers with massive shoulder pads reigned supreme on the runway, as well as tailored trench coats and flowy dresses with dramatic bell sleeves.

According to Balenciaga's creative director Demna, he wanted to go back to the basics.

"Fashion has become a kind of entertainment, but often that part overshadows the essence of it," a note read from Demna on the show seats, per Vogue Business. "In the last couple of months, I needed to seek shelter for my love affair with fashion, and I instinctively found it in the process of making clothes."

His note continued, "This is why fashion can no longer be seen as entertainment, but rather the art of making clothes."

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Paris Fashion Week 2023 Haute Couture: Star Sightings

Balenciaga's reinvention comes off the heels of its controversial ad campaign in November 2022, which featured children holding what appeared to be BDSM-inspired teddy bears.

Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Following the backlash—including comments from several celebrities such as Kim, Lala Kent and Bachelor Nation's Lauren Burnham and Arie Luyendyk Jr—Demna apologized for the photographs.

"I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility," he wrote in a Dec 2 post. "It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them." 

However, the designer made it clear that he would never intentionally create art about child abuse.

"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," the 41-year-old shared. "I apologize to anyone offended by the visuals 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."

Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In addition to his apology, Demna shared a statement from Balenciaga's chief executive officer Cédric Charbit, which detailed a series of actions the brand is taking such as reorganizing its image department, selecting an image board to evaluate its content and donating money to organizations protecting children, among other measures.

Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
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