Nicole Kidman is under fire for refusing to speak out about the Balenciaga “child abuse” controversy.
The iconic Australian actress, 55, stars in the luxury fashion brand’s Spring 2023 campaign which was unveiled last week, just as the scandal broke.
Balenciaga was plunged into crisis after a series of photos showing young girls holding stuffed animals dressed in bondage gear went viral on social media, while another campaign image featured a hidden document referencing a court case about child pornography.
Frequent Balenciaga collaborator Kim Kardashian broke her silence this week, saying she was “disgusted and outraged” – but Kidman has so far refused fans’ calls for her to denounce the brand or release a statement.
Kidman’s Instagram page still features a photo of her modelling Balenciaga, with the post – which tags the brand’s creative team – being flooded by angry comments.
“Shame on you,” one user wrote.
“Silence is deafening. So disappointed,” another said.
“At least [Kim Kardashian] has spoken out. Why the silence here?” a third wrote.
“Oh sweet [Nicole Kidman], you best remove this and cut ties with this company! Going to [lose] many fans,” a fourth said.
“Um – have always love you Nicole but I’m shocked you haven’t said ANYTHING about the horrendous photos that this brand you’re representing posted,” said another fan.
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Kidman was also asked: “What if those were your little girls in that campaign?”
The actress has two daughters, Sunday, 13, and Faith, 10, with husband Keith Urban, and two adopted children, Isabella, 29, and Connor, 27, with ex-husband Tom Cruise.
On Twitter, one user blasted it as “evil”.
“I don’t like going after people but this thing is too evil to ignore,” she wrote. “Nicole Kidman hasn’t removed the recent photo of her modelling Balenciaga from Instagram. I can’t think of any rationale for this.”
Balenciaga has issued a series of grovelling apologies for the images, pulling down the two ad campaigns and filing a $US25 million lawsuit against production company North Six and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins, who were allegedly responsible.
It comes as internet users highlight other creepy hidden details, including allegedly “Satanic” imagery.
In another blow this week, it emerged that photos from the set that featured the child pornography court case also showed a book featuring a Belgian artist whose work includes depictions of castrated toddlers.
Photos from the brand’s now-cancelled spring 2023 ad campaign show French actress Isabelle Huppert posed in a Manhattan office with a stack of books behind her.
Notably in that stack of books is a title celebrating Belgian painter Michaël Borremans, whose works frequently feature children.
The David Zwirner gallery in Hong Kong, where Borremans’ “Fire From The Sun” exhibition has been shown, described his paintings as “toddlers engaged in playful but mysterious acts with sinister overtones and insinuations of violence”.
In a statement on Monday, the brand apologised for missing the mark with both ad campaigns.
“We strongly condemn child abuse – it was never our intent to include it in the narrative,” the luxury couture company wrote.
“The two separate ad campaigns in questions reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.
“The first campaign, the gift collection campaign, featured children with plush bear bags dressed in what some have labelled BDMS-inspired outfits. Our plush bear bags and the gift collection should not have been featured with children.”
The company later addressed the inclusion of legal documents from the US v. Williams Supreme Court case, noting, “All the items included in this shooting were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents. They turned out to be [real legal] papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama.”
Balenciaga said the “inclusion of these unapproved documents” in the ad was due to “reckless negligence”.
The company has since filed a $US25 million ($A37 million) lawsuit against the parties allegedly responsible – production company North Six and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his namesake company.
The company says it takes “full accountability” for its “lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background” and pledged to do things differently moving forward.
“We are closely revising our organisation and collective ways of working,” Balenciaga said. “We are reinforcing the structures around our creative processes and validation steps. We want to ensure that new controls mark a pivot and will prevent this from happening again.”
As a result of the controversy, the company said it will be working with “organisations who specialise in child protection and aims at ending child abuse and exploitation”.
“We want to learn from our mistakes and identify ways we can contribute,” the brand said. “Balenciaga reiterates its sincere apologies for the offence we have caused and extends its apologies to talents and partners.”
Kardashian addressed the campaign in a statement posted to her Instagram Story this week.
“I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns, but because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened,” the reality star wrote.
“As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images. The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalise child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society – period.”
Kardashian said she appreciated Balenciaga’s “removal of the campaigns and apology”.
“In speaking with them, I believe they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again,” she said.
“As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my 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.”
– with NY Post