Have Balenciaga Jumped The Gun?

Fashion has been forever changing and moving into new and exciting directions, through-out the years. The 2018 autumn/winter catwalks have seen no exception to these changes, and I have been particularly interested in the recent Balenciaga ready-to-wear collection, an entire unisex show that has featured in the recent Paris fashion week. Both men and women models showcase within the graffiti covered skate influenced set. Within the collection we see both men and women in fashion-forward garments that incorporated vibrant leg-wear, landscape prints, denim’s and plaids. The newest creative director, Demna Gvasalia, has stretched the wide silhouette to the extreme (just as Cristóbal Balenciaga had done through-out his career) and has produced chunky sneakers that are supposedly the ‘must-have’ piece of the collection.

– The extremely popular, 3 layered sneaker that’s been rapidly flying off of the shelves.

The whole brand’s message through-out the catwalk was forward-thinking from the patterns to the textiles, and even the overturned roles of gender norms. Demna Gvasalia has talked about his work and has said, “After two years at Balenciaga, I wanted to take all the codes of the house and filter them so they can be one aesthetic and one ethic.” By doing this, he has made his mark by showing for the first time men and women unifying on a Balenciaga catwalk, portraying his conceptual and forward thinking views.

– Rachelle Ashby has turned my article into an amazing magazine spread that she will use in her final piece for uni.

I have recently been to the Balenciaga exhibition called ‘Balenciaga – Shaping Fashion’ at the Victoria & Albert museum, London. I was interested to find out that Cristóbal Balenciaga was very fastidious about his work and was famously know for radically changing the silhouettes of women’s clothing throughout his career. As a designer, in my opinion and that of many others, he revolutionized the 1950s and helped break the traditional silhouette that women at the time were chained to. Most people spoke about him with great respect and his contemporaries have referred to him as ‘the master’. The bottom floor of the exhibition focused on his extensive work and craftsmanship between the 1950s and 1960s, whereas the top floor showed the impact his influence has had on other designers such as Paco Robanne etc. Throughout the Balenciaga exhibition there were a number of interesting facts displayed on boards, my favorite of which was, ‘Every Balenciaga collection began with the textiles. Cristóbal Balenciaga understanding of materials and how they behaved encouraged them to experiment. He pursued creative collaborations with manufactures such as Abraham textiles, Ascher fabrics and designers such as Paco Robanne.’ These are big shoes to fill; there has been a lot of pressure on Demna Gvasalia to live up to these expectations.

What I loved about Cristóbal Balenciaga was his attention to detail, care in his work and understanding of the female form. Within the later parts of his career he had focused more on using his new, innovative pattern-cuttings and one seamed garments. There are a lot of similarities between Demna Gvasalia’s vision and the Balenciaga ethos when regarding the ‘one seam coat’. The 2018 catwalk showed garments that where produced using 3D scans of the model, the models were then printed out. The traditional meets the future were traditional fabrics; Tweeds, velvet and wool are integrated into lightweight foam producing minimal seams. This technique has produced sleek, futuristic jackets and coats that give a seamless unison down the catwalk. This use of minimal seams in the 2018 collection correlates with the original Balenciaga ‘one seam coat’ that came around in the last decade of his career. In this decade we saw less seams, body-skimming shifts and tunic dresses which are still to this day are a timeless classic for anyone’s wardrobe. Futurism has been a continuous factor within the Balenciaga brand and Demna Gvasalia has taken this into his stride, but have others agreed with his approach towards the brands revamp?

The new season is “bonkers” according to the Washington post and the Standard; however they have followed these statements with reassurance claiming ‘your eyes’ will adjust in a few years time. It is clear that just like Cristóbal Balenciaga; Demna Gvasalia is not afraid of breaking tradition and has already left his imprint on the brand by challenged silhouettes stereotypes and creating a gender fluid outcome whilst taking influence from the 90s. Demna Gvasalia has gone on to describe his work as a “kind of a snowboarder paradise from the beginning of the ’90s. We tagged it with all the things we were talking about in the studio at the time.” In my opinion the clothing is busy yet has something enticing about it, it makes you want to know more whether you love or hate it. It was these layering that caused the internet to go crazy over hilarious ‘memes’ and ‘gifs’ comparing the look to the episode from the popular US show, Friends. In one episode Joey was seen to be wearing every piece of his wardrobe; users of the internet took this image and compared it to the Balenciaga collection asking everyone “Who wore it best?” Joking aside the use of layers conforms to the skater and 90s influence of the show and I am sure that this will certainly become a future trend in the years to come, however who could justify spending hundreds of pounds a layer?



Demna Gvasalia follows in the path of Cristóbal Balenciaga but it could be said that he may have gone a bit too fair by complicating the traditional, minimalist approach of the brand that only saw change through altering hems. However, I have a lot of respect for the Balenciaga base camp as the newest collection has brought publicity to a good cause by donating £250,000 to the world food program which is in conjunction with the brand looking into the future. Cristóbal Balenciaga was a visionary for his time and it is clear that Demna Gvasalia shares this characteristic, but as both the Washington and the Standard have said ‘maybe we aren’t yet ready for a gender fluid collection quite yet’; Whether or not I 100% agree with that statement is difficult to say as through recent years our culture has been introduced to gender fluid ideas. This idea of gender no longer conforming to labels or boxes is a hot topic at the moment has massively impacted our society; Medias such as the television and more importantly the internet have really been at the forefront of this change. This movement has really interested me and many others such as Demna Gvasalia. What the new futuristic catwalk has shown me is maybe some of us are ready for this change and we all just need to get used to the idea of fashion breaking down the walls between the sexes.

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