Balenciaga may have left Twitter, but that hasn’t stopped users of the site from dissecting the luxury brand’s every move.
On Nov. 21, Nicole Lapine, better known as @shoe0nhead, took to Elon Musk’s Twitter to suggest that the luxury fashion label is conspiring to exploit children — a baseless claim made even more absurd by the YouTuber’s reasoning.
She begins by highlighting a few shots from Balenciaga’s holiday gift campaign, which show child models holding the brand’s harness-clad teddy bear bags, accessories that debuted at Balenciaga’s Spring/Summer 2023 Paris Fashion Week runway presentation.
While some have objected to Balenciaga’s decision to put the BDSM-inspired bags in the hands of young children, the isolated campaign doesn’t exactly point to a wider conspiracy.
Still, Lapine builds her case by falsely linking the images to photos of an entirely different person – again, completely separated – campaign promoting Balenciaga’s collaboration with adidas.
In the photos, the collaboration’s Three Stripes handbag sits atop a pile of very official-looking documents.
Zooming in reveals that one of those documents is a comment from United States v Williamsa Supreme Court ruling that upheld the PROTECT Act, a federal law that criminalizes the advertising, promotion, presentation, or distribution of child pornography.
A bizarre choice in set dressing? Absolute. Definitive evidence that, as Lapine suggests, Balenciaga is alluding to something illegitimate? Barely.
She then cites Balenciaga’s deleted Instagram feed as further indication of the brand’s alleged guilt. Of course, anyone who follows the company knows that it periodically clears its feed and fills the blank slate with its last drop.
Just before Lapine’s conspiratorial tweets went viral, Balenciaga’s official Instagram was updated with new images from the Spring 2023 Garde-Robe collection, which launched for pre-order on the morning of November 21.
Some particularly zealous conspiracy theorists began commenting on Balenciaga’s latest posts with references to Lapine’s claims, which have since garnered tens of thousands of likes and re-tweets.
On November 22, Balenciaga disabled comments on his Instagram page and posted a story apologizing for the drama surrounding his Christmas gift campaign.
“Our plush bear bags should not have been displayed with children in this campaign,” the statement read. “We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.”
Two hours later, Balenciaga posted a follow-up story addressing the court documents peeking out from under the adidas bag, a quick response that may have been prompted by the Kanye controversy that had just escaped the previous month.
“We are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photo shoot,” it clarified. “We stand for the safety and well-being of children.”
Balenciaga did not immediately respond to Highsnobiety’s request for further comment.
While it’s tempting to believe in Lapine’s lecherous storyline, she doesn’t present any evidence that, as she suggests, Balenciaga is ultimately trapped in some sort of Epstein-esque child abuse ring.
Also misinformed: her claim that the photo with a copy of United States v Williams is part of the same campaign with Balenciaga’s teddy bears (who, by the way, are more dressed up as 80s punks than genuine leather fetishists).
Of course, she’s just doing what the internet does best: making mountains out of molehills in the name of clicks.
Hey, we all do, but Lapine could at least get her facts straight.
Or not! The story may be completely baseless, but it is sounds offensive, which was enough to earn it an entry on Tucker Carlson’s famous fact-free primetime show. As a result, conservatives on Twitter pile up the untruths. Just as Elon intended!