Balenciaga: Power dressing for a fiercely beautiful Dystopia
Few houses are having a greater impact on fashion today than Balenciaga, thanks above all to the tenure of its Georgian émigré creative director Demna Gvasalia.
His dark, dystopian, dashing and faintly dangerous fashion reached its latest climax with a sensational collection and show on a dank Sunday morning in Paris.
Once again, Gvasalia took his audience to the Cité du Cinema, inside a film studio soundstage in the industrial heartland of north Paris. Here guests entered a giant all-blue show-space, a sapphire nightclub-meets-cathedral with interlocking catwalks, where the huge cast – wearing 91 looks – marched to a dark industrial-orchestral soundtrack.
The show marked the first public appearance by Demna since his dramatic announcement on September 17 that he would be quitting his daytime job at Vetements, the "cooperative" brand he created with his brother Guram.
"I have accomplished my mission of a conceptualist and design innovator. Vetements has matured into a company that can evolve its creative heritage into a new chapter on its own," Demna said in a statement.
The night before this show, editors were sent an email from the house of Balenciaga, politely but firmly explaining: "This season Demna will not be commenting on the collection or conducting interviews backstage following the show."
Demna didn’t even take a bow, which was a pity because he deserved one after this show, which felt like the biggest statement in Paris this season.
"At the end of the show, you will receive the collection notes that will be accompanied by detailed descriptions of each looks (sic) providing precious information about the collection," read the PR email.
Precious? Well, the clothes certainly were. The designer called this collection "New Fashion Uniforms": arty power dressing which was, at heart, an avant-garde vision of preparing for work – and play – today.
The heart of the matter was the strict shoulder line – exaggerated out three, even six inches from the torso – in a completely coed show. Beginning with classical black wool suits – oversized jackets, flared pants, the women’s looks anchored by forked-tongued boots – which all the hipsters will want. Little black dresses with laminate earrings that read Balenciaga VIP. Logomania at its most ironic throughout: the name reduced down to BLNCG or Balenciaga and used in charming graphic-print plissé silk dresses or seen in perfume bottle print frocks. Outside, all the ushers were dressed in logo rain slickers.
For evening hours, a series of bold newspaper collage-print dresses cut with sexy ruffles and juxtaposed with some smoldering body-hugging 007 seductress jumpsuits.
Demna, who ignited the whole global trend of absurdly over-the-top sneakers, even dreamed up a new Tyrex sneaker.
And yet another brilliant, savage casting, a few models sported face prostheses – many with intense, even angry expressions. Then suddenly Bella Hadid and Nadja Auermann to win a few wry smiles.
His finale featured a half-dozen guys in enormously inflated down jackets, followed by ladies in enormous crinolines in intense colors – whirling dervishes in fire engine red and burnished gold.
Backstage, Gvasalia was inevitably showered with congratulations by scores of admirers.
Ever affable, he turned to one editor and smiled: "You know, I like to think that my clothes speak for themselves, no?"
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