Red Carpet. Balenciaga SS22

Demna Gvasalia returned to Paris Fashion Week with his Balenciaga, and to all the others: game over. He won the week. Again, he’s a genius. “Well,” remarked Gvasalia, with a considerable amount of laconic understatement, “we needed something fun to happen.” For spring-summer 2022, he staged a fake red carpet celebrity-studded, movie-style premiere event and a real one. “I’ve wanted to do a premiere concept where the guests would be the show for many seasons,” he said. “It was nice to have a social occasion again. I hoped it would make people smile.” It was hysterical – in the best possible way. The regular fashion show audience was seated inside the Théâtre du Châtelet at 8 p.m., watching a big-screen livestream of the red carpet arrivals going on in a tent outside. Soon, it was clear that everyone was in on the joke: the familiar Balenciaga tribe of Demna’s house models, lining up to pose in character as celebrities; actual celebrities lining up to pose as models; celebrity models posing as celebrity models. Cardi B and Offset! Dev Hynes! Naomi Campbell! Juergen Teller and Dovile Dryzite! Ella Emhoff! Elliot Page! Isabelle Huppert! Live TV camera feeds zoomed in on faces, raked outfits, shoes, spiky boots, jewelry, and bags. Paparazzi bayed orders. Handlers moved people on in a perfectly performed real-not-real control of lens-hoggers. Inside, hilarity broke out. Numbered looks popped up on-screen. And everyone looked drop-dead glamorously amazing, each to their own, working gigantic gowns, severe-chic sequin columns, outsize black tailoring, skinny bodysuits, fan-pleated dresses, boas, oversized jeans, track pants, evil shades, angular printed-out loafers, monstrous cyber-goth platforms.

Eventually, Demna himself – in a full black face veil, hoodie, and jeans, brought up the rear. “It’s more like a music or movie business, in the way you can convey things,” he said. “I like exploring these borders.” That’s the attitude designers should have in 2021. What the Balenciaga audience didn’t know: the red carpet performance of the spring-summer 2022 collection was the buildup to an actual film premiere of The Simpsons/Balenciaga, in which Marge and Bart (not to spoil the plot) end up modelling in Paris. “Because I’ve always loved The Simpsons, for its whole tongue-in-cheek nature and the slightly romantic-naive side to it” he approached the producers without much hope that they would ever want to collaborate. “But in fact they did. They saw the blue show – the Parliament one – and liked it. Matt Groening’s been amazing,” he said. The fame of Demna and Balenciaga has spread all the way to Springfield. After this, who knows what worlds he’ll conquer next. Whatever he does, I’m in awe.

Collage – or rather fake magazine layout! – by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Positivity. Louis Vuitton SS20

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It’s Virgil Abloh‘s third season at men’s Louis Vuitton, and probably his best. For the spring-summer 2020 show, the brand held it in the real-life, cobbled streets and cafes of the Place Dauphine. The audience sat under trees on Louis Vuitton park benches or sipped a glass of champagne at outdoor tables. The view? A collection of easy, big shapes, flowing pants, real flowers stuck into harnesses and some really good outerwear. People like Dev Hynes of Blood Orange were part of the show’s casting, which made it even more intriguing. Of course, there were some similiarities to Craig Green’s garments in these wearable, geometric constructions that closed the show, but the collection’s main focus was on couture-level craftsmanship. Flower embroideries climbed up tulle coats, and a couple of immensely luxe iterations of hoodies, made from minutely pleated chiffon. “I’m learning, and taking much more of a couture approach”, he told the press after the show. It was a collection oozing with pure positivity, from the delicious pastel colour palette to the flower power elements.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Global. Louis Vuitton AW19

Virgil Abloh‘s second season at men’s Louis Vuitton. I’m not a fan of Abloh’s aesthetic in general, and I never really got the point of Off-White’s hype. But, his work at Vuitton is somewhat ‘profound’. It’s global. But not solely in the sense of more store openings, more celebrities wearing LV (even though those boxes are all checked, of course). The designer looks at the term ‘cultural diversity’ and bravely nods to it in his work. And, while Louis Vuitton is a huge platform, talking about important matters through clothes and events is more than respectful. For autumn-winter 2019, Virgil looked to the late Michael Jackson, setting the scene on a replica of New York street seen in the ‘Billie Jean’ video. Music is always the key for Virgil (who you surely know is also a free-lance DJ). Dev Hynes (!) and Ian Isiah performed new songs. Other than that, there was a live graffiti installation. This wasn’t a stiff fashion show, but a vibrant performance. Models weaved through the ‘street’ wearing flag print, intarsia fur coats and collars, tour-merch-style t-shirts, embellished jumpers and monogram embossed duvet jackets (their super-inflated effect looked impressive in leather). Jackson-inspired beaded, white gloves and jackets appeared as well. There are pieces that will disappear from the shelves immediately (like the over-sized jackets and bold bags) and garments that need more fashion courage (like the multi-layered blazers and pleated skirt-pants). I won’t say it’s a favourite for me, but you definitely can’t ignore this outing.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.