Last Sunday a unique ensemble gathered before the New York Stock Exchange. The New York Times writes, “There was screaming. There was jostling. There were gathered police officers and barricades.” However, the immaculately dressed assembled audience wasn’t there to protest the current state of the world market. But rather, to attend the Balenciaga spring 2023 show.
Not Your Average Consumer?
Demna’s New York debut is the first show held on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. “I am not interested in anything average, including the average consumer,” Gvasalia told GQ and true to his word, his timing could not have been better.
Following several straight weeks of a tumbling Dow, his latest performance piece echoes the symbolic beating heart of American wealth: creation and destruction. Reflective of an otherworldly dream, the show features anonymous models. They are dressed in full latex suits with only their ponytails, braids and thick fake eyelashes visible through slits. Like this, they glide, wraith-like, around Wall Street’s money pit, illuminated by stock symbols and scrawling news announcements.
“We have to trigger emotion with these shows.”
Denma reports to WWD. “For two years, we’ve been sitting at home trying to come up with digital things and video games and films. I miss that moment of yea, it’s terrifying. We live in a terrifying world and fashion is a reflection of that and if it triggers that fear or terror, I’ve succeeded.”
Opening with the ringing of the stock exchange bell, the front row features an intimidating line-up of celebrities. These include Kanye West, Megan Thee Stallion, Offset, Frank Ocean, Marc Jacobs, Pharrell Williams, A$AP, Nast, Candice Swanepoel, Chloë Sevigny and of course, fashion great, Anna Wintour.
The show, divided into three sections, started with the new “Garde-Robe,” or wardrobe, of what Demna described as “upscale classic garments.”
The office wear is, according to a news release from Balenciaga, actually the beginning of a new line called Garde-Robe involving “wardrobe staples” that will be a sort of perennial offering between ready-to-wear and couture. The first set was an offering to classic tailoring, inspired by the relaunch of the house’s couture collection the previous year.
“I realized we were missing this segment of the classic wardrobe,” Denma tells Vogue. He unveils a runway featuring “Working Girl” blouses accompanied by crocodile-print leather skirts. Plissé polka-dot dresses and sac-backed trench coats were belted around the hips and the baggy black suit that broke the internet when Justin Bieber wore it to the 2022 Grammys was featured.
A Collection for Every Class
Beyond the unsettling gimp masks, Balenciaga is emerging as a heavyweight in the tailoring department. The runway includes a decadent 1980s-throwback double-breasted black blazer in a triangle silhouette over a skirt; rigorously tailored power suits, and a long lean camel coat. From oversize, drape-y trenches, collarless robe coats and beautiful wrap coats, the classic collection suits all working classes from the high-end jet-setter, to the 9-5 commuter.
Big Fashion Moments
The third and final part of the record-breaking runway, showcases Demna’s athleisure collection. This allowed the designer the chance to debut tracksuits as business attire. In a collaboration with Adidas that put Balenciaga trefoil logos and stripes on T-shirts, robe coats, destroyed denim, duffels and hourglass bags, the designs hewed towards an oversize, baggy workwear aesthetic conditioned to represent the everyman.
The collection, featuring tracksuits, boxer’s robes, and track dresses, all bearing Adidas’ iconic stripes, continuing to drive home Balenciaga’s growing prominence in the sportswear category.
“I always wanted to use three stripes and the logo, to be very honest with you.” Demna told GQ about his Balenciaga collaboration with Adidas. “As a seven year old kid, I had an Adidas tracksuit, and that was my biggest fashion moment when I was a child.”
“Everybody jumps on the bus or trend wagon, and starts looking the same,” the designer tells WWD.
In his latest runway show, 2023 Resort Collection for Balenciaga, Denma has continued on his predefined quest to subvert fashion by blurring the false boundary between working-class and luxury.
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