‘Outsiders’ are the new insiders at Balenciaga. Opening his spring summer 2018 show with a gaunt and stern faced Stella Tennant, designer Demna Gvasalia signaled something anew was soon becoming. Challenged with moving the legacy of Balenciaga forward in late 2015 the designer has propelled both Balenciaga, and Vetements, where he served as head designer, into buzzed about brands. Recognized for his adept understanding of today’s creative universe and the reach and power of social media, Gvasalia is a unique fashion provocateur.
Elements in the Spring Summer 2018 Balenciaga show included oversized men’s shirts, boucle and tartan, pencil skirts, photo-printed screen art, oversized jackets, deconstructed and reconstructed pieces, some of this, fringe, flounce, spikes, Crocs, lots of souvenir charms and zero smiles.
The models did not need to smile – the wink and the nod came from the clothes. Being able to convey beauty and usefulness from some oddly tacky and nearly ghastly prints is the sort of ‘in your face’ declaration that has made the designer an omnipresent rebel. High meets low, cis meets trans, real meets fake, social commentary or an emperors’ musings, president or puppet, ladies who lunch or ladies that skate? These are the questions that fashion can address and collections can answer -with even more questions. Fashion truly mirrors the times and we are at crossroads of self-identification and social media status. In the collection coats and jackets are sewn onto shirts and hang from their host garments, capturing identity experimentation mid sentence. Yet there is no need to pardon the interruption, it is as welcomed as it is challenging. It’s fashion – cheeky, bold, daring and brilliant. Balenciaga.