Fashion’s “fave it girl” Lotta Volkova has been dragged into the Balenciaga drama after photoshoots posted to her Instagram were unearthed featuring mutilation, satanic themes and violence.
Described as the “coolest stylist in the industry” by Vogue and given the ‘it girl’ moniker by Dazed, Volkova has worked with some of the biggest names in fashion, including Balenciaga and Jean Paul Gaultier.
But now some of her work has been called into question amid Balenciaga’s “child porn” controversy.
The fashion label launched two campaigns recently, one that featured young children holding the brand’s teddy-bear bag dolls dressed in bondage gear such as studded harnesses, collars and fishnets.
Another campaign, in collaboration with Adidas, showed an hourglass bag laying on top of a pile of papers, one of which included an excerpt from the 2008 Supreme Court ruling United States vs. Williams.
The court had been tasked with deciding whether laws banning child pornography inhibited First Amendment freedom of speech rights.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor to uphold the 2003 federal law, which criminalizes advertising, promoting, presenting or distributing child pornography.
“We recognize the seriousness of this matter and condemn all forms of child abuse. We immediately removed the Holiday campaign from our platforms and will cease to sell the plush bears it featured,” a Balenciaga spokesperson said.
“We sincerely apologize for any offense our Holiday and Spring 23 campaigns may have caused.”
Nonetheless, a number of social-media users dug up images from Volkova’s Instagram, which she has now set to private mode.
Christian pundit, Oli London, shared some of the photos to his Twitter page, writing that they “are beyond shocking.” It is not known if the images were styled by Volkova or simply shared to her social media.
One image showed a woman lying on a pentagram as a satanic figure looms over her, while another showed a woman dead on her side in a field with her stomach ripped open and entrails sprawling onto the grass beneath her.
A third photo seemed to be a vintage-styled men’s bedroom but was covered in blood with bullets and broken glass strewn across the floor.
Finally, the fourth image London shared was a child holding up skull within a frame of the star sign symbols from the astrological chart.
Born in 1984, Volkova grew up in Vladivostok in Russia and started her first fashion label, a jeanswear company called Lotta Skeletrix, when she was 19 years old.
She had moved to London two years earlier to study fashion at the Central Saint Martins college.
The Russian soon left design behind her and turned her attention to styling, which is when her career took off.
Volkova styled for major publications such as Dazed & Confused Japan, and Harper’s Bazaar Russia, before starting her own eponymous fashion label.
But it was when she teamed up with Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Balenciaga and co-founder of Vetements that Volkova became the darling of the fashion world.
She worked closely with Gvasalia on styling at Balenciaga, but was also in charge of “the casting, the styling and… also consulting Demna with the collection,” Volkova told 032c magazine in 2016.
That year, the pair faced controversy for casting all white models in the Balenciaga and Vetements autumn/winter runway shows. At the time, Volkova said she found the criticism of their casting choices as “shocking.”
“Those were some shocking allegations for us. We cast certain characters for certain looks and felt we were paying a lot of attention to diversity,” Volkova told 032c.
“We had Russian gay people in the casting, people from so many different cultural backgrounds. But I take this as a challenge now to pay more attention for the future. Not because I want to be politically correct, but because I don’t want to offend anyone.”
The pair had also caught the attention of Ye—then known as Kanye West— who tweeted in 2016, “I’m going to steal Demna from Balenciaga,” for his Yeezy collaboration with Adidas.
Volkova and Gvasalia would go on to work closely with the rapper, whom Balenciaga had picked up as an ambassador. They released a major collaboration with Gap in 2022. co-developed by Gvasalia and Ye.
Earlier in 2022, Volkova collaborated with legendary designer Jean Paul Gaultier where they reimagined some of the most iconic looks from his archive.
“The first time I learned about fashion was through the series Eurotrash, that program with Jean Paul Gaultier and Antoine de Caunes,” she told Vogue.
“I was watching Jean Paul Gaultier naked in a tree, interviewing someone else naked in another tree. It was so f***** up and so much fun.”
Newsweek has reached out to Volkova, Balenciaga and Vetements for comment.
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