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If every season we had to define Balenciaga with a word it would be “peculiar”. This time, it was no different. Under the direction of Demna Gvasalia, the label has elevated the ironic luxurious streetwear aesthetics of Vetements. Credit cards as earrings, the European Parliament as a catwalk or exaggerated shoulders were some of the ingredients.
A studio in the suburb of Saint-Denis in Paris was remodelled to resemble as much as possible the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The four-level elliptical ensemble was installed in the La Cité du Cinéma film studios, all covered in velvet: one-kilometre curtains, carpets, hundreds of chairs spiral upwards.
Neda Brady opened the show. However, he is not a model, but an architect. The casting mixed the models with ordinary people. In the note of the show they appeared, therefore, named one by one by profession. For example, “Tobias Mehlmann, a mechanical engineer” was followed by “Bella Hadid, a model”. So indifferent.
According to the firm itself, the collection is an ode to working people. However, not everyone feels the same way. Some people think it’s some kind of political movement.
“Re-imagine dressing for work: dressing perfectly, no matter what you do for work.
Some saw a satire about U.S. policy on the garments: dresses would refer to Ivanka, diva warm clothes to Melania and the hyper-swollen parkas to Donald Trump’s blockade. Gvasalia doesn’t acknowledge having been inspired by any of these characters, but he is inspired by Angela Merkel’s stylisms. See? He never ceases to amaze us.
The huge gala dresses in crushed velvet or pleated lurex were a tribute to the firm in the 1950s, where clients did everything not to ruin the silhouettes of their dresses. These gala dresses, which looked like Disney princesses, were inspired by an early reference to Christopher based on Spanish painting.
The voluminous jackets also stood out, in fact, they refer to the taffeta night coats that Cristóbal Balenciaga designed for his clients 75 years ago.
The costumes, blazers and dresses were accompanied by overemphasized features, and we no longer speak only of shoulder pads. The exaggerated elements of the garments also extended to beauty: the models wore a prosthetic facial make-up to mark the cheeks and enlarge the lips. These prostheses could be a nod to the growing popularity of aesthetic operations or to the belief in some cultures that prominent cheekbones are a sign of power and authority.
The male models walked through the different rings wearing Hello Kitty bags. Balenciaga once again questions the limits. This time, from a brand “reserved” only for girls. And to guarantee that it’s not just any Hello Kitty bag, it’s embroidered “Balenciaga” in white italics on the protruding satin lining.
The rarity of this collection comes two weeks after Gvasalia announced he was resigning Vetements, the brand she founded with his brother Gurum four years ago.
The brothers have confirmed that Vetements would continue without Demna. However, everything seems to indicate that the decision on his departure is related to Vetements already going out of style. So, if what led Gvasalia to become part of Balenciaga was the hype for the streetwear of its brand, and that no longer works, Balenciaga might reconsider its commitment to this aesthetic.
Despite the lack of uniformity among the great variety of ideas proposed, we can highlight the polished tailoring, workwear and gala dresses. The simple suits gave rise to a double interpretation of whether it was fashion or carelessness. But, once again, the volume took the limelight. Exaggeratedly large garments, and with that we fell short. On the other hand, that’s what it’s all about, Gvasalia’s affinity for the enormous forms and legacy of Cristóbal Balenciaga. “I feel that my mission in Balenciaga is to continue experimenting with volume,” he said.