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.

Humor is Key. JW Anderson SS22

Juergen Teller, in all his near-naked glory, fronts JW Anderson’s spring-summer 2022 lookbook. The photographer had convinced the designer that he should shoot himself thus in his underpants with tires. For what is surely an in-joke satire on the Pirelli calendar (and the Italian tire company’s pin-up tradition), fitting right in 2021. Jonathan Anderson has collabed with Teller to produce printed matter, posters, and portraits of contemporary artists to send out in place of fashion shows during the pandemic. For the designer, the relevance of Teller’s work to the current zeitgeist is that there is “no retouching and no filter. You show things for what they are. You show being body-positive. You have to say, well, this is who I am.” Teller’s well-known, art world-sanctioned predilection for naked self-portraits predates the so-called post-pandemic situation by a long chalk. To Anderson, handing him free rein to work with models on the calendar project for spring 2022 satisfied his instinct for “something very blunt” and the fact that “you have to have humor.” Anderson continued: “Before the pandemic, I was showing a lot to gravitate attention. But what I’ve learned is that you have to have a very focused edit. You make your own pace, show what you want to show. My biggest fear is coming through the pandemic and not having changed.” He’s noticed “how excited girls and guys are, coming through this being more body-confident.” What that boiled down to is the “precision” of pieces like the semi-transparent, circular-embroidered, handkerchief-hemmed dresses and a tan leather shift, fastened with buckled straps. The crafty quirkiness of JW Anderson’s signatures is there, all right, in details like strands of upcyled plastic woven into shoulder-strap fringes and mesh mini-dresses. Looking forward, he says he’s serious about the “reset” everyone was talking about a year ago. His Instagram page was cut to three pictures on the day of the collection’s launch. “I don’t want to come through this pandemic being the same JW Anderson as before.” Quite a teaser for what may be to come.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Be Who You Are. JW Anderson SS22

Partly digital, partly physical, men’s Paris Fashion Week starts today. The JW Anderson spring-summer 2022 (and women’s resort 2022) look-book was shot by Juergen Teller, who perfectly captured what’s on Jonathan Anderson‘ mind this season. “Caught in the moment, when sexuality awakens. There is palpable ambiguity, and provocative wrongness, to his dressing choices“, Anderson described the guy he pictures in this playful, bold offering. The collection hits a juvenile note with colourful and hedonistic clothing as a mean of self-expression that blur the lines between stay-at-home, sports and club dressing: “The kind of glorification of being who you are or what want to be: the idea of privacy of the individual“. The line-up’s instant must-have? All the strawberry knitwear, for both him and her. The designer looks forward to full re-emergence, and is clearly ready to celebrate the good days that are coming!

All collages by Edward Kanarecki. Look-book photos by Juergen Teller for JW Anderson.

Men’s – Real and Fun. JW Anderson AW21

Jonathan Anderson working with Juergen Teller? That’s a match I’m living for. JW Anderson‘s autumn-winter 2021 collection for men (and pre-fall 2021 for women) has been photographed by Teller in London, in his distinct, easy, spontaneous manner. The process basically reflected what Anderson wanted to achieve this season with the garments. “I felt it was better to start the year with something lighter and less calculated,” he declared on a Zoom call with Vogue. “At the beginning of 2021 I wanted something that’s reality. A reality check.” Reality? Well, now that reality’s gone mad, the hilarious antics going on in Anderson’s new set of look-book-posters are a reasonable enough response to the zeitgeist. There’s Sophie Okonedo, who played Charlotte Wells, the mental hospital patient with multiple personality disorder in Ratched, acting up with a gourd, a pumpkin, and an armful of berries, and a trio of male models doing things with cabbage, cauliflower, and an assortment of house plants. To add to the silliness, the handwritten captions are all nonsensically mixed up. “It’s a lot to do with being straightforward, and that’s why I wanted to use Juergen,” Anderson opined. “He’s so good at showing a sharp reality without any fuss.” As usual with JW Anderson, eclectic matchings are the key. Follow the vegetables: ever so cute as crocheted radishes on a sweater, or embroidered on a hoodie; suggestive as great big prints of gourds and a random peach – yet also inspired by Anderson’s interest in 17th century Dutch still lifes, and the work of the British painter William Nicholson. An existential, speculative rabbit-hole, this one: “Why do we glorify something as simple as a lemon or a radish? Is it meditative?” he asks, rhetorically. “So we turned that idea into patterns and iconography. I like this idea of humor in clothing. Squashes on jeans. A peach in the middle of a sweater. Something that makes you grin. Because fashion is meant to make you think, or dream.” Then, the extreme trousering. Follow those upended isosceles triangular trouser legs, and you’re off down the warren leading to Dada and Surrealist costume, the Cabaret Voltaire and Bauhaus theater, if you please. Or perhaps to bump into the checkerboard patterns that the extraordinary gender non-conforming anti-fascist Surrealist Claude Cahoun photographed herself wearing. Those shape experiments are a bold “no, no” to stay-at-home sweats. “I spent so much time last year admiring people ‘doing’,” Anderson says. It’s reinvigorated his belief in craft, in making things himself, in the way he did when he started his brand at the age of 24. “Because I think the world is starting to change. I think this isn’t a time for shock – I think we want reality, honesty, to be stimulated in a way that isn’t sensationalized.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all the very best this festive season! May this Christmas bring you much joy, peace and happiness.  Stay safe and grateful, and spread the love!

Yours truly,

Edward

Daria Werbowy by Juergen Teller and Vanessa Reid for Pop Magazine SS16.