Street artist Joe Bloggs, known by his artist name as The Average Man, placed a vinyl sticker with the words “paedophilia” on the glass display window of the store on New Bond street in central London.
The words appeared three times in black below two back-to-back facing letter “Ps”.
Bloggs explained that the graffiti was in response to Balenciaga’s recent campaign controversy, in which the luxury fashion house published two ads involving children, in an interview with Newsweek.
“I did it due to the abhorrent photoshoots Balenciaga did and their associations with various... people including Lotta Volkova,” he told the publication.
A TikToker captured Bloggs defacing the Balenciaga store window in a video captioned: “POV: you’re walking through Central London enjoying the lights and see Balenciaga getting cancelled”.
One of the controversial ads, which was for Balenciaga’s holiday gift collection, featured children posing with teddy bear handbags – which critics pointed out appeared to be wearing BDSM and bondage-inspired accessories.
The second ad, from Balenciaga’s spring 2023 campaign with Adidas, used a printout of a Supreme Court case on child pornography.
Balenciaga has since issued a statement “strongly condemning” child abuse and clarified that the court opinion documents were included in the photoshoot from a third party source. The brand also took “responsibility” for including child models in its plush bear bag campaign and believes the bondage-inspired bags “should not have been featured with children”.
“This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone,” the company writes.
Despite taking responsibility for the campaigns, Balenciaga has filed a $25m lawsuit against the production company in charge of its spring 2023 campaign – North Six Inc, and its agent, Nicholas Des Jardins – accusing the company of engaging in “inexplicable acts and omissions” that were “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless.”
There was renewed criticism against Balenciaga this week when critics noticed the high-power office-themed photoshoot featured a book by Belgian artist Michaël Borremans, whose earlier work include depictions of castrated children.
Amidst the backlash, one Twitter user claimed a photograph of an individual dressed in a red suit and holding two baby dolls in what appeared to be red paint was former Balenciaga stylist Lotta Volkova. The tweet alleged that Balenciaga “knew exactly what they were doing” when they photographed and released the controversial campaigns.
However, this is not an image of Volkova and is rather an unnamed model showcasing designs from Chinese fashion designer Sheguang Hu in 2016.
Volkova has since made her Instagram private as critics called attention to some of her social media posts, but a spokesperson for Volkova has told Newsweek that “she condemns the abuse of children in any form” and “has not worked with Balenciaga or its team since 2018”.
Other celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Nicole Kidman, have been under fire for their association with Balenciaga. This week, Kardashian revealed she’s “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand, basing it off “their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with – and the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children”.