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.

The Balance. Proenza Schouler AW21

Ella Emhoff’s (Vice President Kamala Harris’s step daughter) modelling debut (she was signed by IMG Models not long after her stylish presence at the Inauguration) was probably the biggest, clickbait moment of this very plain New York Fashion Week. She had her cameo appearance in Proenza Schoulder‘s autumn-winter 2021 look-book and video, and definitely delivered some spotlight to those level-headed, a bit monotonous garments. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are the old hands (the brand is celebrating its 20th anniversary… yes, time flies!) on the local fashion week calendar, with many establishment brands showing later (or not all) this season. Maybe not coincidentally, they mentioned the word “balance” to Vogue: balancing the work-from-home moment we’re currently in with the optimism they feel sure is coming; balancing softness with structure, and minimalism with a more crafted aesthetic. The result is a collection that feels of a piece with their recent, consistenly minimalist work. They still favor an earthy palette and they continue to work their repertoire of lean, confident pant suits and fluid midi-dresses, a particularly striking one in chartreuse and brown tie-dye. But where a year ago, jackets and dresses were tugged off shoulders, this season that “attitude,” as they called it, was built into their patterns, be it a spongy knit dress with an askew head hole or a top with a swooping asymmetrical hem. The former snaked around the body, while the latter had a buoyant sculptural volume. Clothes that work harder while also being easier to wear – the new investment pieces, which make sense in COVID times.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.