Monday 19th April

| BY Claudia Croft

Balenciaga: Winter 2021

Can fashion make you feel good? Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia thinks so. Fresh from being “hacked” by Alessandro Michele, his Balenciaga Winter 21 offering deliberately tapped into positive emotions. But what does hope looks like in 2021? The collection celebrated comfort dressing with a couture approach.

Traditional categories like day, evening, smart or casual were completely blurred. The shapes were soft, oversized and mostly unisex. They referenced hoodies, tracksuits and kimonos but the inventive cuts brought a couture-level cleverness to the collection. Scarves and stoles integrated into outerwear, denim skirts turned into shorts at the back and Gvasalia signed off with a grand, floor-length “wedding dress” coat in the kind of quilted black nylon more commonly used for parkas.

Layering-up the emotion, the look book shots were superimposed onto popular tourist destinations including the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Big Ben. Remember how good it felt to travel freely? With vaccines rolling out, we can all hope to enjoy the freedom to roam once again. Balenciaga is all about an enveloping, slouchy, go-anywhere elegance. The roomy draped dresses were one-size-fits-all and there was also a message of inclusion in the “Gay Pride” hoodies that riffed on iconic “Gap” iconography.

Other feel-good factors? The knowledge that 90.6% of the plain and printed fabrics in the collection are certified sustainable. The collection release was accompanied by a “Feel Good” video, produced in collaboration with video artists Kamilya Kuspanova and Anton Bialas, it doesn’t feature a single product or piece of merchandise. Instead, the artists have collaged together visuals and sounds that have been scientifically proven to instil joy in most people. Watch it after a hard day of home working. If it doesn’t make you smile, nothing will.

Photography courtesy of Balenciaga.