Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia hit Los Angeles this week to attend a cocktail party Thursday night at its Rodeo Drive boutique, which opened in July. In keeping with the house’s low-key vibe, there was no battalion of press covering the event, not even a house photographer. That didn’t mean there weren’t a few notables in attendance among the customers, stylists and editors.
“Transparent” actress and model Hari Nef was hard to miss in one of Balenciaga’s floral print patchwork frocks. “I’m stalking the clothes,” she said while flipping through the racks of voluminous wool and puffer jackets. “A lot of these looks fit me really well, which can be hard when you’re tall. I’m not a sample size like a teenager.” In fact, Nef was out with several of her Parisian friends celebrating her 24th birthday, which is today. “Maybe I’ll get to keep this dress,” she said hopefully.
“Happy Birthday,” Gvasalia told her. “Thanks,” she replied, adding, “All my friends in New York bought the Balenciaga sweaters for fall.”
Gvasalia noted the crossover trend among his customer, with women buying pieces from the men’s collection and vice versa. “I want people to mix things up, so that it’s not one look from head to toe,” he said. During his few days in Los Angeles, he visited retailers, meticulously examining how his pieces are merchandised. “I spent a lot of time in Barneys,” he said.
Though this was a work trip, Gvasalia said he adores Los Angeles, having spent most of his August holiday here. Like many designers, he scoured vintage shops for inspiration pieces. “I’m not really looking for specific eras or designer clothes. I like things like old uniforms or costumes from Hollywood productions. I could search for days and days,” he said.
While several tall, beautiful and androgynous-looking members of Gvasalia’s posse milled about in pieces from the fall 2016 collection – one wore Balenciaga’s exaggerated shoulder men’s jacket over the women’s leather legging boots – there was one person who went with a local get-up.
Lionel Vermeil, Kering’s director of luxury and fashion intelligence, showed up wearing the white Sleepy Jones pajamas he found in his room at Sunset Tower — the hotel’s logo was embroidered on the pocket. “It’s my favorite brand of pajamas, and I thought it looks right for L.A.,” he said.
Coincidentally, the hotel’s owner Jeff Klein was also at the party and nearly burst into tears of happiness when he spotted his pajamas. “Wait, who is this person? This is one of the best fashion branding moments of my life,” he exclaimed. While Gvasalia may have admonished against wearing a look head-to-toe, Vermeil really went for it. He accessorized with a Sunset Tower emblazoned shoe bag from the hotel, inside of which he stashed the Do Not Disturb sign, a pink cardboard oval which read simply, “No.”