Disruptive thinker that he is, Demna Gvasalia switched things up again, opting to show Balenciaga’s summer 2021 pre-collection instead of what would have been the main “runway” collection. He also used the video format instead of an immersive physical experience while ramping up his eco efforts, with 93.5 percent of solid-colored fabrics either upcyled or certified sustainable, and 100 percent of the prints certified sustainable.
Design is also a sustainability consideration, and many of the outfits hurtling through the rain-slicked streets of Paris after dark (models maintained their urgent catwalk gait) are unisex and one size, which “will diminish the environmental impact of a gendered production model,” according to the press notes.
The designer also reprised his hefty overcoats, roomy shirts with extra-long sleeves, track jackets, loose dresses and even hoodies, here in a leaner fit and stamped Paris Fashion Week in a generic font.
“Oversize and hoodies and many other things in this collection are part of a Demna fashion vocabulary, and they will stay there as long as I feel the relevance of those codes,” Gvasalia said in an e-mail exchange after the show. “There will always be hoodies as long as people wear them. There are good hoodies and bad hoodies out there and to succeed in making a good one is as much of a dressmaker’s skill as it is to fit a sleeve head into the armhole of a tailored jacket.”
The clothes felt more approachable and wearable, with subversiveness and Gvasalia’s wry humor coming through in the styling. He tossed major sparkly jewelry on oversize sweatsuits, glammed up pool slides with heels, and everyone wore sunglasses at night as the Corey Hart hit of that name, revved up by BFRND, fueled the video’s momentum.
The designer said he wanted an earworm of a song, and “also I loved the idea of wearing sunglasses at night. It is such an absurd thing to do, but so undeniably ‘fashion.'”
In an interview last month with WWD, Gvasalia recounted how coronavirus lockdown rekindled his love of clothes, and the fun of dressing up. This led him to relinquish his recent focus on themed collections, while not returning to the dry laundry lists of garments he drew up when he first arrived at the helm of Balenciaga in 2015. His new approach is more intuitive “and my instincts told me to design the garments that evoke desire to be worn and feel easy, cool and stylish in.”
This pre-collection sprang partly from imagining what fashion might be like in 2030 in a conceptual way, and he said this idea would also inform his main fall collection, which will be unveiled in December, format TBD.
“Fashion in a decade is about upcycling, recycling, modern craftsmanship, non-disposable and nonseasonal clothes,” Gvasalia said, explaining that some of the looks whisking over bridges and through dark tunnels were “aged and super destroyed” as if they had been worn for years.
“I like the idea of finding poetry in the long-term love affair between the garment and the wearer,” he said. “I think the future will inevitably bring us to this way of consuming and cherishing clothes and turning them into new clothes instead of throwing them away.”