'I didn't see anything wrong': Balenciaga photographer surprised by anger at ... trends now
The photographer who took pictures of children carrying teddy bears wearing S&M gear for Balenciaga's new adverts has insisted he did not think the images he took were disturbing - despite receiving death threats and been called a pedophile when the photos were published.
Italian documentary photographer Gabriele Galimberti, 45, said he had received a torrent of abuse since the campaign was unveiled last month.
Galimberti, whose work has featured in National Geographic, Le Monde and Marie Claire, said that he was shocked by the virulent response, but stressed that he had nothing to do with styling the shoot or selecting the theme.
'I can recognize if we are going too far or not, but in that occasion I trust them and I didn't see anything so wrong,' he told The Guardian.
Gabriele Galimberti, 45, took photos of children with teddy bears in S&M gear for Balenciaga's campaign. He said he had nothing to do with the styling, and the parents of the children said the bears were punk and did not object to the shoot
Galimberti said he had no idea the photos he took would cause such a furore
The teddy bears (circled left) were wearing S&M harnesses. The parents of the children said they thought the bears were dressed in punk clothes
The Tuscany-based photographer said the children's parents were on set, and did not object to the photos
He said the children in the photos were the offspring of Balenciaga employees, who accompanied them to the shoot and did not raise any concerns.
'When they saw those bags, everybody was telling them they were punk,' he said.
'Nobody ever mentioned BDSM.'
The Tuscany-based photographer said he lit the scene, and then using mannequins took photos which were downloaded immediately to a computer and approved remotely.
He has no idea who was approving them. He said that when the lighting and styling was agreed on, the mannequins were then swapped for the children.
'I'm a documentary photographer. I photograph what I find there,' he said.
'For me, if the room is red or yellow, it doesn't make any difference.'
Demna with Kim Kardashian at the 2021 Met Gala. The 41-year-old Georgian native has been credited with boosting Balenciaga's profits by partnering with stars like Kardashians
Vandalism on an empty store on Rodeo Drive last month in a clear protest against the brand, whose own store is nearby
Meanwhile on social media, disenchanted consumers are burning their Balenciaga goods in protest
Galimberti said he had received death threats, and felt that Balenciaga was slow to take responsibility for the shoot - instead allowing him to take the blame.
'I get messages like 'we know where you live', 'we are coming to kill you and your family', 'we are going to burn your house', 'you have to kill yourself, f***ing pedophile',' he said - adding that 90 percent of the abuse came from people in the United States.
Galimberti worked on the images of children holding teddy bears in bondage gear, and not the Adidas x Balenciaga campaign featuring a handbag on top of documents detailing a court case about child pornography.
He said the photos have been shared together, with people assuming he took both sets.
He is suing four media outlets for falsely suggesting he was involved in the child pornography shoot.
Balenciaga tried to claim that North Six was responsible for this photoshoot where a SCOTUS ruling on child porn was included in the background of a photo of a handbag
Fashion insiders have expressed their disgust with Balenciaga for trying to blame part of the scandal on North Six, a production company that was involved in the photoshoot
The fashion house finally announced that it was no longer seeking action against North Six, the production company that it said was responsible for child porn legal documents ending up in its July photoshoot.
Balenciaga and their creative director, Demna, who does not use a surname, apologized last week - an apology which Galimberti said was slow coming.
'I was writing [Balenciaga] emails every day – two or three or four emails per day – telling them, 'guys, people are looking for me. They say that they want to come here and kill me. Please do something. Write a new statement.'
He said Balenciaga suggested he set his Instagram account to private in order to limit the messages.
Galimberti said that the shoot was his first for a fashion campaign, and he took the job because the fee was 20 times what he would be paid for documentary work.
He has now lost work, he said, including a project with National Geographic and an exhibition.
He caught the eye of Demna for Toy Stories, a series of images of children surrounded by their toys.
Another project, The Ameriguns, released in 2020, photographed Americans across the US with their personal firearms.