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.