What’s more LA than a celebrity-filled fest, the golden brightness of sunny California, the Hollywood sign, pilate preachers dressed down in athleticwear, that one Erewhon smoothie, and a certain mindset of anything goes in this bubble of privilege? Because the Balenciaga Fall 24 show set in LA had all of the above, and more.
Forget the olden, institutionalised Paris, LA is now the epicentre of popular culture. Its hilltop mansions are filled with this generation’s reality and social media stars, which, for a brand like Balenciaga, is more bankable currency in exposure and marketing than a seal of approval from the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode could ever give.
It comes as no surprise that Balenciaga would host its show in Los Angeles, as the Creative Director, Demna, often resorts to his close-knit celebrity friends to be a part of his Balenciaga shows. Whether on or off the runway, they are always there to push his somewhat ludacris aesthetic to the top of everybody’s moodboards. This is the second show Demna has hosted in the US, after his Resort 2023 show shut down the New York Stock Exchange. While the East Coast event embraced the idea that money equals power, this one followed a similar mentality that fame and followers equals influence, and therefore power.
Fame and influence reeked on the streets of Windsor Boulevard and Hancock Park, where the Balenciaga show was set. Even before the show started, it’s impactful status was already felt by its long list of celebrity attendees, which included sisters Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner, newly announced brand ambassador Nicole Kidman, Amelia Gray, Lisa Rinna, Delilah Belle, Sexxy Red, Eva Longoria, Luka Sabbat, Fai Khadra, Ken Carson, and Rachel Sennot.
Set behind the historical and highly capturable Hollywood sign, the Balenciaga Fall 24 show kick started with a relatively simple look: a model, shirtless, walked out wearing sports-style, knee-length shorts, a water bottle in hand and a towel thrown over his shoulder, speaking on the phone while stomping on the concrete runway with an even wider version of the Cargo sneakers, first unveiled last season in Paris, the 10XL sneaker. Muse of the House, Eliza Douglas, was up next, giving us a womenswear version of the first look, with tight leggings and a matching long-sleeve top, a leather bag with a gym towel hanging out, and of course, AirPods plugged into her ears.
There’s only one place where leggings on the runway would be acceptable – and that’s LA. The high fashion brand fully immersed itself into LA culture, made most apparent by the show’s backing track. As per usual, the track was made by Demna’s partner BFRND, and consisted of a series of advertorials, totally American-sounding voices selling wellness in all sorts of ways. It’s a subtle-not-so-subtle way of poking fun at a facet of Los Angeles’ culture, specifically its consumeristic and capitalistic way of looking at health and wellbeing, while also catering to that very culture. It’s a fine line between commenting and partaking in a particular culture we’ve seen Demna do time and time again throughout his runway collections.
If the juxtaposition of heavy gold chain jewellery with a full gym fit wasn’t LA enough for you, then Balenciaga’s collaboration with the celebrity organic retailer, Erewhon, will do it. The overpriced grocery destination that sold a Hailey Bieber-designed $18 smoothie perfectly encapsulates hype culture, where those who have money to burn are willing to do it on the most mundane of things, food, just to get that branded Erewhon seal of approval.
Demna must have taken a page out of Hailey Bieber’s book, as the collaboration came through as a charcoal powder smoothie. We also saw models walking down with a paper-brown Erewhon bag (though its luxury so it was actually made out of leather), adding another layer to Demna’s obsession with mundane shopping bags – think of the IKEA Frakta bag or Spring/Summer 2024’s farmer’s market bag.
Continuing in that SoCal aesthetic that prioritises comfort, one Y2K-themed pink velour tracksuit was reminiscent of that one worn by the OG reality TV star who, arguably, changed the streets of LA forever, Paris Hilton. Comfort reigned supreme, especially with the commonly Balenciaga-associated oversized proportions seen on zip-ups, sweatpants, and jackets. It wasn’t until halfway through the collection that looks started to resemble something that only the rich and famous could pull off, in the form of tweed-style two-pieces and dress suits, albeit their oversized emphasis.
The show closed off with a series of gowns, though the limited offering seemed to call out the casual-ification of celebrity-wear, whether being papped out on the streets or on a red carpet event. Some black-coloured gowns came oversized and layered with fabric, in some ways as the antithesis of LA with its covering of the body and loose-fitting proportions signalling an apocalyptic style and lifestyle takeover straight out of American Horror Story.
Celebrities may have stormed the frow, but a bleached-brow Cardi B was given a special runway allocations, as she walked down the paved road in a sparkling, furry, royal blue overcoat accompanied by a chained necklace that shined brighter than anyone’s Invisaligned and whitened teeth. The show closed off with a couture-style white gown, with an extended neckline that hid the model’s face halfway down, as she held a stiletto clutch first unveiled during Balenciaga’s last show.
Through the eyes of Demna, Balenciaga gave a satirical take on Los Angeles’ over-the-top culture, which is far from the rest of the world’s not-so-privileged states, including the one Demna grew up in. The Balenciaga Fall 24 show both made fun of and fully assimilated itself into a certain culture that, at the end of the day, the brand benefits from. It represented a rags-to-riches story for Demna, as well as a commentary on fashion and pop culture’s symbiotic relationship that just can’t get enough of each other.
Anyway, two Balenciaga x Erewhon smoothies to go please.
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