It's Balenciaga's world and we all live in it

It’s Balenciaga’s world and we all live in it

It might be the inevitable brain fog that comes with watching fashion shows for weeks on end, or just a symptom of subliminal advertising, but lately I’ve seen Balenciaga everywhere I turn. Last week was while they were sitting in the cinema watching Robert Pattinson and Zöe Kravitz put their millennial twist on the Batman franchise. With its brooding Tumblr aesthetic, it offered its own distinct take on a vigilante billionaire and feline sex siren. When he wasn’t in his Batsuit, the new Bruce Wayne slicked his hair in oversized t-shirts, wraparound sunglasses and chunky hoodies, and Zöe’s skintight biker looks could very well have been be made from spandex. Indeed, the two characters looked like they were wearing Balenciaga. As they really seemed to have placed a bulk order on SSENSE before deciding to tackle Gotham’s corruption. Here, Batman – who’s supposed to be a billionaire playboy by day – could just as easily have been a late-night Twitch gamer, rig producer, techbro, or Central Saint Martins fashion student. All thanks to her distinctly Demna-fied wardrobe.

Come to think of it, though, there’s little that doesn’t look like Balenciaga these days – and therein lies the genius of its fearless creative chief Demna, who no longer uses a surname. to pop culture authors such as Prince or Madonna. And it’s not even just other clothes – everyday trivialities began to feel like Balenciaga: the task of taking out the trash; break your iPhone; or even put on a hi-vis jacket for cycling at night. That’s all then Balenciaga. Over the past seven years, the Georgian-born, Swiss-based designer has reshaped the look of contemporary luxury by transforming ostensibly mundane items and concepts into expensive and provocative products. Few have avoided its Midas touch: Crocs, IKEA tote bags, gift shop trinkets, outdoor performance apparel. And yes, trash bags and broken iPhones, the latter sent to guests as invitations to Balenciaga’s AW22 show.

Balenciaga’s new flagship store on London’s Bond St, designed by creative director Niklas Bildstein Zaar and architect Andrea Faraguna of Berlin studio Sub.

Much like the deliberately distressed interiors of the house’s newly refurbished couture salons at 10 avenue George V in Paris, and its new Bond Street flagship in London (which opens tomorrow), it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between what is a simulation and what is ‘real’. Is it really mud and rust, oil stains and cracks in concrete floors? Maybe it is, maybe not. Deep in the cracks between confusion and fascination lie the secrets of Balenciaga’s success. It has become a mirror of our strangely fragmented times, as good fashion always should. It takes an expert eye to decipher between authentic craftsmanship and intentional artifice. The proof is in the pudding – what could so easily have looked like the decorative distress of a you old times The Adventureland ride at Disneyland is actually achieved through a level of craftsmanship that only true luxury houses can display. The so-called “raw architecture” of Balenciaga stores is the result of a partnership between Demna and artistic director Niklas Bildstein Zaar and architect Andrea Faraguna of Berlin studio Sub, which took years to develop.

Of course, it’s not always for the faint-hearted. In the wrong hands, this mix of good and bad taste could be considered another iteration of the Emperor’s New Clothes. A leather trash bag made in Italy is ripe for ridicule, after all. What sets Demna apart, however, is the irreverence in the act. Those who to know know, and the designer is confused by those who don’t. He once said, “It’s for someone who really loves fashion, not for people who have time to debate Met Gala looks for hours.” But that’s not really the point. In Paris, at a souvenir kiosk near the Trocadero, I was struck by the amount of what was on display there, echoed in the offer (albeit high) in Balenciaga boutiques: Eiffel Tower key rings, scarves inexpensive, “Paris” baseball caps. It’s all there, in broad daylight, for people to see. There is a touch of irony but also a lot of sincerity in the way Demna offers the world her conception of fashion.

With his clever mix of Y2K nostalgia, futuristic branding and elevating everyday symbols, there’s seemingly little Demna won’t touch, turning everything he does into a facet of his overarching vision of what the fashion can mean today – and at who he can talk. More importantly, it doesn’t mock humble source material from a haughty pedestal. You can wear the €5 souvenir cap or the IKEA shopping bag and still have the Balenciaga look. This is what makes it truly democratic and rooted in the actual act of simply dressing up – something that fashion has too often overlooked as a way to engage with new audiences.

In doing so, Demna redefined the parameters of what a fashion house can be – placing it at the center of a Venn diagram of luxury, celebrity, satire, retail and reality. herself. No need to buy a two thousand euro handbag to enjoy the episode of The simpsons which Demna created with designer Matt Groening, which poked fun at the cult of Balenciaga and premiered in an opera house full of celebrities whose red carpet arrivals were part of Warholian’s overall performance. There’s also no need to navigate the brand’s video game Balenciverse, developed with the digital firm behind Fortnite. Hell, you don’t even have to buy Balenciaga at Balenciaga – you can buy it at Gucci, where stark hourglass blazers, City bags and Demna pantaloons come in Franekenstenian mashups of the GG-BB brand, like a megawatt musical duo.

Demna’s work is now pop culture itself. He may be the only person to truly mediate peace between the world’s most famous couple, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, who both consider him a collaborator. He attended last year’s Met Gala with the former, hiding her in a black figure that riffed on the very idea of Kim Kardashian rather than the woman herself, and just a few weeks ago he wrapped her in Balenciaga tape like some sort of Balenciaga package going through customs. With Kanye, Demna elevated the theatricality of live music with a conceptual staging of donda and democratized its own universe by associating Balenciaga with YZY Gap. It is perhaps the only common good that cannot be divided by a messy court decision.


Balenciaga’s new flagship store on London’s Bond St, designed by creative director Niklas Bildstein Zaar and architect Andrea Faraguna of Berlin studio Sub.

It all comes down to that confusing word when used in a fashion context: reality. Last month things got really real at Balenciaga. Demna staged a Balenciaga show that will go down in history as one of the most powerful – and political – statements ever seen on the runway. The kind of show that will be talked about for decades to come, the same way we think about the pivotal shows of McQueen, Galliano and Margiela today. He went where no other designer would – or could – go: He staged a show that reflected the realities of wartime refugees, just six months after appearing at the Yellow Corps in Springfield. No irony in sight, it was a heartfelt display of the horrors of having her life uprooted and being forced to flee home, just as Demna and her family did when they crossed the Caucasus Mountains while some of the 250,000 Georgians driven from their homes by Abkhazian separatists during his country’s civil war. He was 10 years old at the time. “I actually stuck it inside me for 30 years until I started reading the news last week, and it brought all that pain back.” When asked what he wanted the show’s message to be, Demna simply replied, “The message is love, always.”

It cemented her position as fashion’s most ambitious designer, someone who can mirror the world and all of its absurdities with irony. and sincerity – which in itself is a reflection of how we all move around the world today, laughing at memes one second and witnessing the atrocities of war another. It’s reminiscent of what Chris Kraus wrote in where the art belongs about the defunct art collective Bernadette Corporation, which it “stated the obvious in all its complexity” – declined to offer a transcendent answer to, or critique of, what they observed. Likewise, Balenciaga offers a high-level concept sheet for understanding the rudimentary appeal of clothes and clothing symbols – but it’s up to you to do what you want with them.

Needless to say, this is Balenciaga’s world and we all live in it. Whether you’re Kim Kardashian, a traffic cop in a high-vis vest, a couture lady, or just someone wearing your favorite jeans and a plain old T-shirt, you’re part of the tapestry of the universe. by Balenciaga. , love it or hate it. The question is: what’s not to like?

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