“Modern glamour…” Demna Gvasalia mused after presenting his collection. “Elegance, glamour, all the words that seem, kind of, taboo today. “
For spring, Gvasalia sought glamour “in the context of now.” And for shedding those dusty associations, there’s nothing like a little, or a lot, of high tech. Enter artist Jon Rafman, whom he’d met at Art Basel. Together, the two produced a stunning, immersive event-cum-fashion show that awed with its brazen acknowledgment of how technology has taken over the world and our world. Rafman’s specially commissioned video work, “The Ride Never Ends,” encapsulated Gvasalia’s audience in a four-sided tunnel arranged around the perimeter of a vast space outside the city limits. Backstage after the show, the designer apologized for taking his guests so far away, but explained he needed the space. Fair enough. It was the kind of head-spinning experience for which you’d need museum tickets months in advance. But courtesy of Monsieur Pinault, voila! A 30-minute Sunday-morning drive, and step right in.
As guests did so, they were lulled into a sense of calm — eyes open or closed, you could drift away — surrounded by LED projections and sounds of rain drops on three sides falling in deep blue night, while underfoot, the virtual water rippled and pooled into infinity. “This is just, kind of, setting the mood of a relaxed, cool spa tone for the rest to come. You’ll see,” Rafman said before the show. And how. It started with a hard jolt into the future-present, blue-screen computer warnings of all sorts of havoc. These in turn disappeared into all kinds of images of the world and birth-by-technology worlds.
Against that visual overload, Gvasalia introduced his take on modern glamour, which he does not see as a one-season foray. “Balenciaga could stand for [it],” he said. The clothes were not revolutionary, but neither were they swallowed whole by the surrounding turbulence. Rather, they looked oddly at home, bold and assured, yet also right for today’s world — the real one, not the virtual.
Gvasalia went between structure and ease, seeming to move past his prior dedication to street. Yes, a trackpant here and there, but his primary message was of confident polish. He went deep with tailoring, particularly with a square, pointy shoulder, for uber-sculpted coats and dresses. Gvasalia retained the volume for adventures in “neo-tailoring” — softened-up pin-striped shirt-and-pants looks, identical for men and women. And there was plenty more, as Gvasalia clearly wanted to show range. Case in point: shirts and sweatdresses that ballooned precisely in the back looked haute; a selection of micro-minidresses, hot. Both wafted a little of retro and a lot of retail viability.