Balenciaga Spring Summer 2024. Review by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE. Photo Courtesy: Balenciaga.
The Spring Summer 2024 collection by Balenciaga seems to be another departure from conventional fashion. It appears to embrace elements of subversion, incorporating different influences and unconventional choices. Fashion is often a reflection of cultural and societal shifts, and designers like Demna Gvasalia are known for their ability to provoke the controversy.
Balenciaga’s Spring Summer 2024 collection, under the direction of Demna Gvasalia, has taken a deeper plunge into a realm of what can only be described as sheer absurdity and provocation. The notion of a “concept” in this context appears to be a thinly veiled excuse for what can only be termed as a deformation of fashion and a descent into perversity.
One cannot overlook the brand’s questionable history, including past controversies surrounding BDSM-inspired kids commercials and flirtations with Satanic imagery, which, alarmingly, seem to have found once again place in this collection.
What truly boggles the mind is the decision to enlist known critics and journalists to strut down the runway. Cathy Horyn, a respected fashion critic and journalist from The New York Times, Diane Pernet, American blogger known for her Spanish black aesthetic, and even Demna Gvasalia’s own mother were among the unexpected “models.” The inclusion of Amanda Lepore, a performance artist, and Loïk Gomez, husband of Demna, known as BFRND, a techno-symphonic music artist, adds a layer of bewildering randomness to this spectacle.
And then there’s the unsettling choice to close the show with a Balenciaga bride, who looked like a “new bride” for Marilyn Manson. Manson, whose actions have inspired murders in the United States, should not be glamorized in any fashion context. And there’s no wonder Loïk Gomez, husband of Demna, known as BFRND, looks exactly alike, even in his real life.
The accessories in this collection are equally baffling, with Balenciaga bags adorned with hundreds of different keys, symbolizing the locking away of what can only be assumed to be horrific secrets.
The majority of the collection appears to embrace a “Rap style,” with pants made from an incongruous combination of jean and khaki. Plastic bread bags emblazoned with the Balenciaga logo are used as an alternative to eco-friendly options, further highlighting the collection’s disregard for social and environmental sensibilities. Ballet slippers and bathrobes round out this eclectic, and frankly, nonsensical mix.
To top it off, the glasses in this collection are likened to Batman’s, adding an element of comic absurdity that feels out of place. The Balenciaga Spring Summer 2024 invitation left much to be desired. While the concept of a book on French tailoring seemed promising, it lacked the depth and innovation one would expect. Furthermore, the use of passport props from country “Balenciaga” and train tickets from Paris Nord during the runway show felt forced and gimmicky. But what for?
In his interviews to the media Demna said:
“What does fashion do to us? Because for me I have to be honest, I don’t care much about luxury, or the whole idea of it. Because I don’t want to make people… to give them a proposition that they are rich, or successful, or powerful. My fashion works from down up and not from up down. Which I think is a very old world situation. And I wanted to question that. What is the identity, how does fashion create it? Because I suffer through it every day. Because I dress like that, and walking like that in Paris is not like… you know… you get insulted, you get “you are a weirdo”. And all my life I’m that. And this summer Loic and I we had a very horrible experience in the South of France, where people literally chose to change their tables in a restaurant because they didn’t want to be seated next to us. Because we look scary to them. And so the day after we went and bought some clothes to look like them to try to blend in… I showed it to a few people already but…
And how is to be that kind of Demna that the world can tolerate… It felt disgusting. And it confirmed to me that the only way I want to be and I want my work to be is loyal to myself and not trying to be someone or something else. Because I’ll never fit in. I mean do you want to see me like that? It was like this anthropological almost experiment that I wanted to do to show the power of clothes.”
Balenciaga’s Spring Summer 2024 collection seems to revel in controversy for the sake of it, with a mishmash of influences and choices that defy comprehension. It’s a collection that raises serious questions about the direction of the fashion industry and its responsibility to promote positive and meaningful cultural discourse.