the evocative mix of political commentary and poetic showmanship
Balenciaga fall ‘22 exemplifies the evocative mix of political commentary and poetic showmanship, culturally necessary this season. The runway; an enclosed space mimicking that of a snowglobe, showcases the enclosed models walking against the artificial snow blowing their way. Someone shook the globe, and this apocalyptic setting (though reminiscent of their Fall 2020) is for Demna, was originally aimed to show us a time where the earth becomes so warm that snow can only be experienced through simulation.
A major part of this Balenciaga experience – aside from climate change – is its support for Ukraine. Placing Ukrainian flags on all the viewer’s chairs, alongside a personal note from Demna about the conflict, the Artistic Director goes on to recite the words of Oleksander Oles, a Ukrainian poet and hero. This was an act of protest (and a necessary one for shows attracting as much press as Balenciaga does). Politically evocative and culturally aware, this very introduction all summoned us to the climax of Balenciaga S/S ‘22.
Now, the reason the world was present at the event in the first place: the clothes. Unmistakably Denma, the show opens with Minttu Vesala wearing a long-sleeve mock-neck black maxi dress that’s caped on the right arm. The wind, creating a unique movement in the dress, has another function as the material “sticks” to her body while aggressively blowing behind her – creating a bodycon illusion. Vesala, along with many of the looks after, hold a trash bag-esk tote, perhaps a commentary on the environmental impact of humanity’s plastic consumption? The plastic look is seen throughout as garments – such as the catsuits and look 12 blazer – mimicking the texture of soft plastic. IT girl Bella Hadid was also present, sporting the only white boots of the collection perfectly cohesive with white trim on the end of her maxi dress and white under-top (that also acts as gloves). Going beyond the monochromatic, two floral wrap dresses follow; they too dramatically “stick” to the models, blowing in the same way with the added drama of their prints. This first “chapter” of the collection, is backdropped by David Kadouch’s rendition of Slavic Dances in E Minor, embellishing their luxury while also creating a melancholic feeling (juxtaposed with the environment).
Now, we can’t not mention the now already iconic Balenciaga “caution” tape catsuit – thanks Kim K. In fact, it is around here that a new chapter begins, one of techno – BFRND is back – with oversized hoodies and sneakers that weave through the lavishness – totally elevating themselves in the process. Here comes the “wrapped in a towel” looks – protected only by sunglasses of course. While these looks play on that oh-so-loved Balenciaga irony, they also add to the subtle eerieness of the show. And a definite highlight for us is the tall galoshe-like shoes turned heels which only get higher as the show goes on.
With such a momentous beginning, the show ended with an equally powerful close. Two looks that represented the Ukrainian flag – a baggy yellow tracksuit followed by a striking long blue dress – acting as the closers, and leaving with them a reflection and reminder of the current conflicts of the world. Overall, this show exemplifies the power of Demna’s creative vision and the adaptable nature of his art.