After wiping Balenciaga’s Instagram clear of all its posts, many were speculating if Demna Gvasalia was following Daniel Lee’s footsteps at Bottega Veneta. Little did we know, the short hiatus was to make space for the designer’s first couture show, paying the utmost homage to Cristóbal Balenciaga.
Marking the brand’s 50th couture show, and first show since Balenciaga’s retirement in 1968, Gvasalia pulled his strangest move yet by creating a traditional show, all while merging in his futuristic aesthetic to create a new era of couture. Taking place in Balenciaga’s original Parisian salon, the silent show was an ode to the house’s founder. As Gvasalia states “Over half a century later I see it as my creative obligation to the unique heritage of M. Balenciaga to bring the couture back to his house”.
Kickstarting the show, we saw a sombre two-piece suit, a reference to Balenciaga himself, who often opened his shows in all-black looks to direct the viewers’ attention to the silhouette. Volume, avant-garde and architectural inspiration, Gvasalia captures the very essence of the Spanish house through his dramatic ballgowns, oversized coats and excessive hats. Sticking to custom, the last look was a bridal gown and its full-length veil directly inspired by Balenciaga’s 1967 bridal dress, a sleek, clean-cut, showstopping piece.
But rather than just looking at the past, Gvasalia incorporates it with his vision of the future, offering us sportswear-inspired looks, modernized suits and a first for the Balenciaga house: 30 men’s couture looks. A rarity in haute couture, the Georgian designer created finely tailored, structural suits – which were seen on both men and women – Japanese denim and tracksuits, which walked along the embellished gowns and full length gloves in a street-style-couture-hybrid presentation.
Speaking of the collection, the designer said he wanted to preserve “the sacred art of making fashion – what a real tailored jacket looks and feels like, what marvels haute dressmaking can produce – and to share that with younger generations”. And he did just that.
Gvasalia has modernized couture in a show worthy of the history books. And its turnout further proves it. The audience included some of fashion’s top faces, including Anna Wintour, Edward Enningful, Bella Hadid, and Kanye West, though his face was not seen thanks to a full-face covering. Even the model casting felt unreal, including some of Balenciaga’s recurring models and none other than Ella Emhoff, America’s Vice President Kamala Harris’ step-daughter.
If it wasn’t clear enough yet, Demna Gvasalia has just made history. With each look being more daring and bold than the other, the designer’s unmatched artistry and unexpected move has offered us the couture show of the century. Highlighting the genius roots of the house through his many references to Cristóbal Balenciaga, Gvasalia has just created the blueprint to modern couture.
Make sure to check out the collection below.