COUTURE CLUB: When Balenciaga makes its return to haute couture in July after 53 years, it won’t just be unveiling creative director Demna Gvasalia’s first high-fashion silhouettes, but also a sparkling new venue: a fully restored version of founder Cristóbal Balenciaga’s original couture salon.
In what is sure to be one of the hottest tickets of Paris Couture Week, the collection will be unveiled on July 7 with an in-person fashion show at 10 Avenue Georges V, the historic address that also gave its name to one of the house’s perfumes, Balenciaga told WWD exclusively.
While the brand still has a store there, the couture salon had been closed for more than half-a-century. The building’s second floor has been renovated as a facsimile of the original space, located on another floor of the building.
The intimate venue marks a change of pace for the brand, which has showcased its ready-to-wear collections with stunning immersive shows held in a film studio complex on the outskirts of Paris. Balenciaga had initially planned to unveil the couture line in July 2020, but its plans were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The development will bring a new name to couture week, and an unexpected one, given Gvasalia’s penchant for creating lust-worthy sneakers, hoodies and bomber jackets at Balenciaga and at Vetements, the brand he founded with his brother Guram in 2014.
He’s upending several traditions for the rarified pursuit, dispensing with seasons to show only once a year, and including couture for men. In an exclusive interview with WWD in September, Gvasalia said couture could become the driving force of fashion again, as it’s free from the constraints of industrial production.
“Couture represents freedom of creativity and freedom in fashion. And that’s maybe the reason why I wanted to do it so badly,” he said. “I believe strongly that couture actually may save fashion, in its modern way.”
Despite having to work remotely for a year, Paris couture houses have signaled their confidence in the sector with a series of high-profile investments in recent years.
Chanel earlier this year unveiled its renovated haute couture salon on Rue Cambon, decorated by Jacques Grange, and moved its specialized workshops into a large Métiers d’Art hub dubbed 19M in Aubervilliers on the outskirts of Paris.
Dior, meanwhile, is renovating its headquarters on Avenue Montaigne, which houses its couture workshops.