Balenciaga is a luxury fashion house founded in 1917 by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. The brand is known for its innovative designs and avant-garde approach to fashion. Balenciaga’s signature style includes voluminous silhouettes, oversized proportions, and exaggerated shapes. The brand has also become known for its use of high-tech materials and innovative techniques in its collections. In recent years, Balenciaga has been led by creative director Demna Gvasalia, who has brought a fresh and contemporary edge to the brand while staying true to its legacy of innovation and experimentation.
The latest round of shows has emphasized the importance of returning to the core principles of design, rather than prioritizing brand-focused, attention-grabbing tactics such as experiential marketing and meme creation. At the Balenciaga fall 2023 show, this tension between the two approaches was particularly evident. It marked Demna’s return to Paris following the backlash generated by two online advertising campaigns for Balenciaga last November. Demna, a renowned master of meta-irony, was the designer of the show.
Whether it was due to circumstances beyond his control or not, he made a decision to abandon his mega-set approach and prioritize his personal pursuit of professional credibility as a designer in a blank canvas-covered auditorium. He expressed that the set designs had taken center stage and overshadowed his collections, which was contrary to his intention as a designer. He felt like he was betraying his primary focus on creating great clothes, as his sets had become a buzzworthy 15-minute spectacle. Consequently, he realized that he needed to change and prioritize his design work. He loves creating elaborate set designs, but not at the expense of making clothes, which is his ultimate passion. He wanted to send a clear message that his collections should be the main focus and that this change is a reflection of who he truly is as a designer.
Identifying the subject and his current location is a matter of uncertainty, but the opening sequence of Balenciaga’s show conveyed a sense of a world turned upside down through 17 oversized black tailoring looks. Black is a core color for Balenciaga, which aligns with the prevailing mood of fashion. This also served as a reminder that Demna was the pioneer of the trend of super-sizing in fashion over the last decade. However, what set this collection apart was that all the pieces were made from reverse-tailored trousers, featuring coats and jackets with pant-loops and pockets in the hems, and doubled pairs of trousers hanging below. The resulting surreal illusion of people walking on four legs from the side was a new element in this show.
A note left on the seats informed that Demna had gone back to his earliest memory of choosing clothing as a child in Georgia. He was given money to have a pair of pants made by a neighboring tailor. The venue he selected for his show was located underground, a stark contrast from the gritty basement venues where he first surprised audiences with his Vetements shows in the mid-2000s. This time, there was no celebrity front row, but instead a professional industry audience of 700. The location, the Carrousel du Louvre, was purpose-built for fashion shows in the 1990s and a significant part of the Paris fashion establishment where Balenciaga is situated. It was apparent that Demna was navigating his vast business forward through the eye of a storm, as he has encouraged the world to scrutinize everything he does for underlying messages.
See what Demna Stated About Balenciaga’s Fall 2023/2024 Collection
The issue at hand is how to effectively manage and regulate the potentially harmful and uncontainable aspects of public opinion on the internet. While focusing on simplifying a collection down to its basic elements may be a helpful step, it is only one part of a much larger process. Demna’s approach involves recentering the brand’s attention on Cristóbal Balenciaga’s legacy, with the goal of evolving it for the future. As Demna himself stated, this is his main reason for being there. By stripping away any distractions, the collection reveals a blend of Demna’s signature styles, including cyber-avatar menswear and floral-printed knife-pleated dresses, while also paying homage to Balenciaga’s archive of formal evening gowns. These gowns are characterized by their slender, modest design, intricate detailing, and a newly-added rounded shoulderline.
Balenciaga is preparing for a significant change beyond its typical style modifications. An absence of logos on the clothing and accessories is the notable indicator of this shift. Highly visible branding has been a significant component of the Balenciaga cult culture that Demna has popularized in the streets. However, he acknowledged that this is a big decision and expressed his belief that his work should no longer require branding justification. This change is necessary and presents an opportunity to convince others of its importance. Demna recognizes the need for persistence in implementing this change, as it will require ongoing effort to bring it to fruition.
Balenciaga Fall Winter 2023 2024 Full Fashion Show
Balenciaga Fall Winter 2023 2024 Full Menswear and Womenswear Runway Fashion Show Collection by Demna