Five things to know about Balenciaga’s fashion show

The second Balenciaga Couture presentation under Demna’s leadership was the French fashion house’s 51st overall. The occasion was held in conjunction with the historic store at 10 Avenue George V, which had been closed for 31 years after the brand’s 1937 debut. If Demna had demonstrated with the Fall Couture 21 show that he could escape the label of designer solely associated with sweatshirts and sneakers—high fashion denim and taffeta had successfully recreated a connection with the heritage of Cristobal Balenciaga—with this collection he had managed to further authenticate and maintain the consistency of his very personal narrative. We’ve chosen five items, including the lineup of models and celebrities, suggested silhouettes, and subversive reworking of accessories.

All the celebrities on the catwalk

The glittering black Daft Punk-style masks that launched the show and turned the models into faceless mannequins were changed to scenic face-facing gowns in the middle of the performance by stars including Nicole Kidman, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, Dua Lipa, and Edoardo Camavinga. From long-standing collaboration with (former) West spouses to Isabelle Huppert’s selection for the most recent Couture, Demna’s approach to the well-known faces of the star system has always been a heterogeneous alternation between cynicism and idolatry. Celebrities have long been an integral part of the strategy to make the Balenciaga world an integral part of mainstream culture.

the observance of rules of Couture

The abrupt transition between daytime ensembles (trench and entire look in pvc, silk sweatshirts, bomber jackets, and distressed loaf) and gala outfits in the second part of the presentation signifies the “unveiling” of the models’ faces (oversized flips and midi tailor-made dresses strictly in silk). In fact, according to Haute Couture tradition, brands that want to exhibit in Paris must present at least 50 unique models, both day and night, and just like Balenciaga: transitioning from the uniform of total black and cyber punk that Demna describes as daily wear to the riot of colors of gala dresses.

Watches are jewels

The mesh dress with crystals has been coupled with vintage wristwatches, re-proposed as actual jewels, trompe l’oeil tweeds, which are obtained by interspersing organza or jersey ribbons with beads and sequins, and the sequined gowns that provide deceptive illusions with atypical textures. In fact, during the exhibition we observed certain old watches being worn as earrings and necklaces, giving one of the fundamental accessories a new usage.

And bags are a stereo

Is that a purse or a stereo? The bag-shaped cases in hand during the performance also diverted viewers’ attention away from the catwalk models employed to mimic the runway music. The Speaker Bag is a multipurpose item that was milled from a block of solid aluminum before being polished and anodized by hand in a partnership with Bang & Olufsen. An item that many Balenciaga lovers may consider to be the holy grail.

The research behind materials

The collection combines craftsmanship and technological innovation: the first entire looks are created from Japanese neoprene, while the polyurethane masks were created by Mercedes-AMG F1 Applied Science, a branch of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd. The faux fur is created with high-definition photographic mapping and weeks of programming, while the dizzyingly narrow waist in men’s looks is ensured by the corsetry, embedded in wool tops and coats. The T-shirts have been internally lined in aluminum to maintain the “deliberately crumpled” effect. Everything else, including retro bomber jackets, parkas, coats, and jeans, have been disassembled and then reconstructed from pre-owned clothing, or upcycled, as in the cases of Helly Hansen and Alpha.

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