To mirror the “predictably unpredictable time ahead” and stand in solidarity with Ukraine, creative director Demna Gvasalia brought a sudden gust of snow to Paris in a fashion show fraught with symbolical meaning
Presented in Paris last Sunday, Balenciaga Winter 22 Collection was possibly Demna’s most personal fashion show yet.
The muses of the French Maison walked down a 360° runway in what looked like a The Matrix spin-off from a “not-so-distant future”. Facing a storm of artificial snow with iconic sunglasses of various shapes and colours, the models unveiled a superb, audacious new line entirely inspired by the challenges of our times.
In the mind of creative director Demna Gvasalia, the naturalness of winter and the harshness of its cold left place to a man-made, manufactured version of what once used to be real. Taking on an ecological stance, the designer channeled his thoughts on the current climate emergency — and the shrinking boundaries between seasons — through the use of alternative materials specifically engineered to diminish the fashion house’s carbon footprint.
Traditional looks were modernised through enhanced silhouettes and volumes. Hybrid stretch dresses and bodysuits acquired a new, unconventional fit as they were paired with gloves, shoes, pants or leggings. Elsewhere, the clean, hyper-sophisticated tailoring of some of the garments on display was countered by the partial destruction or purposefully exaggerated — whether shrunken or made oversized — sizing of turtlenecks, pants and jersey hoodies.
Repurposed pieces of clothing and discarded textile, including a towel and a pair of jeans, enjoyed a second life as a body-wrapping piece and a 90s-inspired crop top. Outerwear took centre stage reinventing itself in a myriad of forms, including leather, puffer, bomber, denim and track jackets. Signature accessories, whether bags or sneakers, further enriched the presented outfits while custom Balenciaga packaging tape served as a belt on a wrap coat as well as baggy pants.
Since 2015, the Georgian pioneer has never ceased to mesmerise the international fashion community. Still, though the garments presented last Sunday confirmed his visionary approach to fashion, the message behind the Balenciaga Winter 22 Collection moves far beyond the realm of the atelier.
“The war in Ukraine has triggered the pain of a past trauma I have carried in me since 1993, when the same thing happened in my home country and I became a forever refugee,” Demna Gvasalia shared in a letter ahead of the launch of the new collection. “In a time like this, fashion loses its relevance and its actual right to exist.”
“I thought for a moment about cancelling the show that I and my team worked hard on and were all looking forward to. But cancelling this show would mean giving in, surrendering to the evil that has already hurt me so much for almost 30 years,” he continued. “This show needs no explanation. It is a dedication to fearlessness, to resistance, and to the victory of love and peace.”