*This article is intended for readers 18 years old and older.*
Balenciaga caused public outrage after the release of their ad campaign that featured children holding stuffed animals in sexual gear. In addition, some of the photos on Balenciaga's website contained inappropriate documents and material that seemed to glorify cannibalism and pedophilia. Now, one individual named Lotta Volkova is facing backlash for her disturbing taste in the depictions of child abuse.
Who Is Lotta Volkova and Her Crew?
Lotta Volkova doesn’t only have links to Balenciaga – she's also worked with some of the biggest name brands including Vogue, Adidas, Chanel, and Jean Paul Gaultier. While she claims that she hasn’t worked with Balenciaga in years, Volkova has a close relationship with Balenciaga's creative director and Vetement's founder, Demna Gvasalia. She's also friends with Gosha Rubchinskiy, a Russian streetwear designer, who allegedly pressured a 16-year-old boy to send nudes of himself. The trio seems to be a tight-knit group, and is even credited as the "inventors" of the post-Soviet style fashion.
Volkova credits her success to "lucky and random encounters." She met English fashion designer Gareth Pugh at a nightclub in England and befriended Gosha Rubchinskiy. She says she met Demna Gvasalia through a mutual friend and started working with him "by chance." "One day, he showed me the photos from his collection. I found his clothes super, but not the styling. So, Demna asked me to be involved. We have been working together since 2015. I'm a brand consultant, I take care of collections and fashion shows, from casting to style supervision," Volkova said in an interview.
What Volkova didn’t mention in her past interviews, however, is how her group seems to gravitate toward child pornography. Demna posted about it on his Instagram back in 2016: “Someone wrote that Lotta (Balenciaga stylist), Gosha, and I grew up on child pornography and radiation from Chernobyl, which is why we’re so f*cked up." In addition to Demna’s Instagram posts, Volkova’s pictures on her social media have also emerged, photos that have the same aura as Balenciaga’s controversial ad campaign – but be warned, as these images might be distressing to some readers.
Volkova References The Shining
Volkova shares one image of the elevator scene in the movie The Shining and tags her friend, Gosha. If you don't know much about this Stanley Kubrick film, here's the summary: A little boy named Danny has "the shine" – psychic abilities that he's too young to understand. His family heads to a hotel for the winter, and this hotel tries to take Danny's "shine" away by consuming him. If you know anything about Gosha Rubchinskiy, this fact should raise some red flags.
Gosha often "casted'' young men through Instagram, going as far as to ask minors to send photos of themselves shirtless in their underwear. "Gosha has been doing casting by Instagram for many years now,” Gosha’s representative told GQ. “It is a normal practice nowadays. We always ask to [sic] face photos, in full length and topless. Sometimes photos in underwear are required in order to understand the volume of hips.”
Interestingly, Gucci – who owns Balenciaga – launched a campaign titled "Kubrick" and used The Shining as inspiration for their photoshoots as well.
Volkova Often Posted Photos with Young Men of Unknown Ages
Perhaps Volkova is friends with Gosha because they share the same affinity for young men. Volkova seemed to love posing with young men – who appear to be minors – in pictures.
She Loved Posting Photos of Child Abuse and Teddy Bears
According to these screenshots by one anonymous investigator (@curioslight), Volkova shared an image of a room full of blood, a child with their innards exposed, and a little girl taped to a chair. Some of her other images of children were eerie as well, often depicting children in pain and/or in fear. Others are worse: Some of her photos depict babies being eaten.
Just like Balenciaga's Gift Shop campaign, the stylist posted images of herself with teddy bears, even sexualizing them. Users believe it alludes to the "pedo bear," a cartoon bear that's associated with pedophiles. Gosha commented on one of these posts with a wink. Volkova also posted an image of Moloch, a Canaanite deity associated with child sacrifices.
Volkova Appeared To Be into Bondage and Rabbits
Before Volkova made her Instagram private, her page included images of people in bondage gear and rabbits – both of which were found in Balenciaga’s campaigns. Some users believe the white rabbit is the symbol of adrenochrome's chemical structure, a chemical compound created by the oxidation of adrenaline.
She Glamorized Cannibalism and Satanic Imagery
In one photo, Volkova is seen wearing a band shirt of “Cannibal Corpse” at a church. In another painting she shares, there’s a monstrous bear in the process of consuming a girl. A third image features a creepy, dark, moldy room with a goat head on an upside-down pentagram.
She Posted Pictures of Sex Rooms
Volkova posted photos of private rooms that users believe were used for sex. "Below are bath houses she would take young boys and have orgies, this boy(left pic) looks like she has brought him with her to the U.S.," one user speculates. "The 2nd picture is why is the hashtag sorryputin, why and sorry for what ? Taking the youth from Russia or doing something bad to the youth ?"
Volkova and Demna Break Their Silence
Balenciaga issued a statement on social media following the controversy. “We apologize for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign,” Balenciaga wrote on Instagram. “We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot.” They added, “We strongly condemn the abuse of children in any form. We stand for children's safety and well-being.”
While these findings are alarming, Volkova states that she hasn’t been involved with Balenciaga since 2017. As reported by Newsweek, one spokesperson for Volkova said she “has not worked with Balenciaga or its team since 2017, and she has in no way participated in the brand's recent Instagram or advertising campaigns.” They added that Volkova “condemns the abuse of children in any form.”
Demna has also addressed the controversies, writing, “We sincerely apologize for any offense our Holiday Campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.” Still, the stylist and Demna have yet to address the odd similarities between Balenciaga's recent campaigns and Volkova's taste in "art."
With all of these disturbing images resurfacing, it makes sense why people believe that Volkova and Demna are to blame for Balenciaga's unsettling advertisements. Surprisingly, Balenciaga has decided to file a lawsuit against the production company that's apparently responsible for the ad campaign. The luxury brand is currently suing North Six Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins for $25 million dollars. North Six has declined to comment on the suit, but one source has said that the company denies involvement with the production of Balenciaga's Gift Shop campaign.
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