Balenciaga FW24 preached anonymity, but also not really

Balenciaga FW24 preached anonymity, but also not really

by Juliette Eleuterio
6 min

The Paris Fashion Week star-studded affair that is the Balenciaga Fall/Winter 2024 show by Demna gave us ironic luxury that questioned itself and its position within our current digitally native society.

Set in the historic Dome des Invalides, the Balenciaga show, of course, brought out the A-listers, with the nearby roads blocked up by countless black-tinted Mercs and SUVs. Brand ambassador Kim Kardashian sat next to Salma Hayek, the wife of the President of the Kering group. Luka Sabbat, mother-daughter duo Lisa Rinna and Amelia Gray, Hari Nef, Rachel Sennott, Paloma Elsesser, Ashley Graham, Serena Williams, Juyeon of THE BOYZ, PP Krit, and many more found their seat on the front row. 

The celebrity allure at Balenciaga is something Demna has been growing more and more during his tenure at the Maison, but for this show it seems as though anonymity, with a majority of looks sporting three quarters of the face-covering masks or futuristic-looking, large wraparound sunglasses. This isn’t an entirely new idea we see proposed by Demna, who for his Spring 2023 show, set in the New York Stock Exchange, brought up models wearing gimp masks, alluding to the idea that in our current day and age of social media currency, anonymity is the ultimate form of luxury.

Although, considering this is Balenciaga, it isn’t total identity erasure that Demna is aiming for. Many models accompanied their looks. with thick buckle bracelets with a phone hanging from them, ready to take a snapshot of everything and anything that goes on in our daily lives, not too dissimilar to the crowd extending their arms out, phone in hand, ready to record the entire show. 

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The lack of recognition was further compromised by the not-so-subtle Balenciaga branded tags hanging from garments. Logomania is a trend that has come and gone, one that Balenciaga wasn’t impartial to back in the day, but with these tags it’s making a comeback in a less flashy, but still eye-catching, way. Basically, you can stay anonymous as long as people know you’re wearing Balenciaga — cut to American Horror Story’s Myrtle’s famous final words. 

The dishevelled, done-undone aesthetic was portrayed throughout the collection, where gloves were not used on hands, but rather laid over, and dust bags were used for tops. We also saw scotch-tape wrapped around outfits, while some models looked like they had thrown on their entire selection of skinny-strap tank tops. The final look — a dress constructed out of heaps and heaps of underwear — brought a new meaning to outerwear, amplifying the thongs sticking out of sweatpants look we saw at the Balenciaga LA show late last year.

A dichotomy of ideas wasn’t just reserved for the clothing, but also seen in the screens that made up the show set, too, by Cour. Large screens took over the walls and floor of the space, plastered with images of natural settings such as mountains and deserts, at first, before landing into a digital universe, much like fashion’s own IRL to URL prerogative.

It begs the question many of us have been asking ourselves: should I start my TikTok career or am I too self-conscious of my digital footprint? Do I want to live in one of the big four to pursue my dream of working in the flashy industry of fashion or do I want to escape to a remote cabin in the woods, far away from an internet connection?

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Throughout the collection, Demna’s signature codes came through. We saw models adopting the signature Balenciaga stomp-and-frown, domineering walk, whilst wearing intentionally messy-layered suits, backpack outfits, and subculturally-informed pieces. The bootlegging technique that made Demna so famous in the first place also returned to the runway, with eBay logo-adorned tops, echoing the unique eBay finds show invites we all received prior to the show.

A big criticism Demna has received during his tenure at the Maison has been losing sight of the original Couturier’s vision of the brand. Though, this season, Demna brought back techniques core to Cristóbal Balenciaga’s original work, including the “hip-aulette” construction, by adding shoulder pads into the hip on gowns, while “Vaureuse” tops were rethought with inverted trousers. 

While this collection felt very on par with the work we’ve seen Demna put out, there were also stark differences with this show compared to his previous ones. Most notably, his muse Eliza Douglas did not make her usual runway appearance, though was still in attendance and overheard post-show talking in awe of the affair, and how different of an experience it is to walk versus to watch the show. We also saw less of an emphasis on his signature oversized look, now fully adopted by his brother Guram at Demna’s former position at VETEMENTS.

Ultimately, Demna is still bubbling with ideas to present at Balenciaga, sure ideas we’ve seen him explore before, but here presented in a novel way. Every show seems to outdo the previous one in a spectacle that draws in eyes from all over the world. Love it or hate it, Demna’s Balenciaga isn’t going anywhere. 

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