In early December 2022, amid an ongoing public furor over lurid ad campaigns for the fashion house Balenciaga that featured child exploitation and BDSM themes, social media users shared what appeared to be a Balenciaga ad promoting a men's jacket made of human skin.
In reality, however, the photograph used in the "ad" was then roughly five years old, had nothing to do with Balenciaga or any Balenciaga product, and had been deceptively edited to bear the company's logo.
The picture, which did not originally contain a Balenciaga logo, was taken from an Etsy page active in January 2017 that offered faux human-skin garments created by Australian special effects artist Kayla Arena. Here are a few of the products that were advertised on the page at the time:
(Kayla Arena's Etsy Page, January 2017)
Arena uses latex and silicone to simulate human skin in her creations, which more recently have included fake-but-real-looking corpses and body parts she constructed for the Guillermo Del Toro horror anthology TV series "Cabinet of Curiosities."
We emphasize, again, that none of these creations were made using real human flesh, and none of them are connected in any way with Balenciaga.
A similar deceptive social media campaign was built around a falsely labeled picture purporting to show Balenciaga stylist Lotta Volkova covered in blood and modeling a "satanic" outfit.
Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities. Double Dare You (DDY), Netflix, Exile Entertainment, 2022.
KaylaArenafx on Etsy. 26 Jan. 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170126071904/https://www.etsy.com/shop/KaylaArenafx.
McNeely, Kelly. "Feast Your Eyes On These Creepy and Cool Ed Gein Inspired Creations!" IHorror, 24 May 2017, https://ihorror.com/ed-gein-inspired-creations/.
Paton, Elizabeth, et al. "When High Fashion and QAnon Collide." The New York Times, 28 Nov. 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/28/style/balenciaga-campaign-controversy.html.
"This $1,200 'Human Flesh' Jacket Takes Fashion To Disturbing New Levels." Elite Daily, https://www.elitedaily.com/elite/human-flesh-jacket-disturbing-fashion-levels/1766584. Accessed 3 Dec. 2022.