Balenciaga Fall Winter 2023-2024 “Detention”. Story by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE. Photo Courtesy: Balenciaga.
That was funny to see this show. Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Balenciaga, got detention from Kering luxury group (owner of Balenciaga, CEO François-Henri Pinault). And when I say detention – I mean DETENTION. And it is not a school thing. There was no LIVE show given on social media networks – only reply 1h later, so “unwanted” parts of the show were cut, no leaks of any information, no videos, or posts. Everything was literally under military control of Kering. No posts on social media networks by Demna or Balenciaga – nothing, nada, нет, nicht.
In January 2023 Kering Luxury Group started to post archival Cristobal Balenciaga footage compilation 1960 – 1967s, announcing that Balenciaga is going to get back to its roots and go back to the legacy of the founder Cristobal Balenciaga. Kering announced the exhibitions in Paris and Hague (Netherlands) of historic pieces of Balenciaga.
Kering massively supplied media with the press-releases: “The Kunstmuseum Den Haag presents an ode to Cristóbal Balenciaga’s designs in black with its exhibition Balenciaga in Black. Over 100 masterpieces from the collections of Palais Galliera and Balenciaga have already been put aside in Paris, now exhibited in The Hague, Netherlands. For M. Balenciaga, black was the ideal shade to display his artistry. Without the distraction of color, the first thing one notices about a Balenciaga piece in black is its complex sculptural design.”
And for the cherry on top, Kering announced that this new collection Fall Winter 2023-2024 was supposed to be a modern version of the heritage of Cristobal Balenciaga. Is it really?
February 9, 2023 Demna Gvasalia gave an exclusive interview to Vogue where he used known techniques of “stuffing words”, exposing his emotions, and talking about himself. Basically it was a “Me, myself and I” story. “… The name of Balenciaga and the legacy of Cristóbal Balenciaga is one I cherish and have the utmost respect and fascination for. Balenciaga is a house that is over one century old and is based on strong and beautiful creative values, and I have been busy doing all in my creative power to bring it to its modern relevance… It’s an evolution. When I work on couture, there is a very direct link to the heritage and to Cristóbal’s work, which has not been translated enough to the ready-to-wear yet… Cristóbal Balenciaga’s legacy, defending it and evolving it is the number-one reason why I am here…” – Demna Gvasalia interview.
So after the huffed and puffed public performance of Kering and Demna we all waited for something as we only can define “Return to the roots”. But instead we got dull looks of Demna with high huge shoulders, from where he started. So there was no question of returning to the roots and legacy of the house Balenciaga, it was returning to the beginning of Demna.
I was 6 years old when my parents let me have a pair of pants made for by a neighbor tailor. I designed them, chose the fabric for them in a fabric shop, and went to the tailor twice for fittings. This was the very beginning of my love affair with clothes: what predefined my relationship with them and made me want to become a designer.
Fashion has become a kind of entertainment, but often that part overshadows the essence of it, which lies in shapes and volumes, silhouettes, the way we create relationships between body and fabric, the way we make shoulder lines and armholes, the way clothes have an ability to change us.
In the last couple of months, I needed to seek shelter for my love affair with fashion and I instinctively found it in the process of making clothes. It reminded me once again of its amazing power to make me feel happy and truly express myself. This is why fashion to me can no longer be seen as an entertainment, but rather as the art of making clothes.
So these oversized jackets, long dresses, sandwiched by freaks in plastic cosmo-boots – is that the legacy of House Balenciaga?…