Demna Gvasalia and the corporate machine make for an odd pair, but the designer dedicated to subverting convention embraced big business wholeheartedly for fall with a collection that was all about the 9-to-5, from the mail room straight up to the c-suite.
It was a recent office move that got under Gvasalia’s skin — Balenciaga’s headquarters now sit right next to parent Kering’s — and he sees suited captains of the industry daily, but also messengers, interns and “the guy who goes to the office on a Sunday.”
There must be quite a few of those: Kering didn’t get a market cap of 28.39 billion euros by sleeping in and doing brunch.
Gvasalia said his aim was to work around formalwear and “put tailoring on a pedestal,” take away the rigidity of the classic corporate suit and breathe some warmth and coziness into it. Like so many European designers this season, he knows the classic suit-and-tie combo is dying — few young men want or need to dress that way anymore — and he’s looking for solutions.
What a problem solver he is, delivering a slick, thought-provoking collection packed with tailoring — and comfort: Suits were cut loose and baggy — no restrictive tailoring here — while shirts were fully unbuttoned, flashing chest flesh. Coats were even bigger, boxy and long enough to stash an umbrella or two, and had the sharply exaggerated shoulders that Gvasalia is making his signature at the brand. Footwear came in the form of chunky soled sneakers, combat-style or rain boots.
Trousers were wide and long, settling in fat wrinkles over the tops of those chunky sneakers. Others were snug, almost like jodphurs, hugging models’ bottoms and balancing bulbous nylon padded baseball jackets.
What would a Gvasalia/Balenciaga collection be without a sweatshirt? They came layered over plaid tops — nothing was tucked in here, channeling Mark Zuckerberg — and adorned with Balenciaga or Kering branding, while a long puffy coat had a Kering logo at the back, one that featured a multicolored Seventies, corporate America swirl, something suited to Amway or State Farm.
But the designer’s followers don’t need to worry that Gvasalia is a corporate sellout. Asked whether he’s now a captain of industry, the designer quickly shot back, “I think I’m more the intern.”