21st century couture? Demna delivers it. The build up to his second Balenciaga couture show happened on the street the day before, with paparazzi pictures of Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman arriving at the house fuelling speculation of an epic, celebrity filled catwalk.
But as the first model stepped onto the runway, in a catsuit made from a specially developed, matt black neoprene, her face obscured behind a black high-tech full face visor (engineered by Mercedes-AMG F1 Applied Science), it was clear that famous faces were not the only story of this Balenciaga couture show.
Demna proposed an entire futuristic/fetishistic neoprene wardrobe for men and women, tailoring and sculpting the fabric into sinister sheath dresses and sharp suited silhouettes, with models carrying handbags that doubled as portable speakers. (A high tech collaboration with Bang and Olufsen each was milled from a solid block of aluminium.) T-shirts were also bonded with aluminium to create an entirely new fabric that holds its shape when manipulated.
Craft was also at the forefront. Demna devoted a quarter of the show to upcycled pieces made from old bombers, hoodies, parkas and denim (which came with silver-plated couture hardware). His artisans also created a special ‘tweed’, weaving ribbons of contrasting precious fabrics to create the look. ‘Feather’ gowns were actually crafted from hand-shredded silk which took hundreds of hours to make.
If the first half of the show was about strong silhouettes, high tech collaborations, innovative fabrics and inventive wardrobe pieces, the second half was about star-studded dressing. The masks came off as Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman, Bella Hadid, Demna’s musician husband Loik, Dua Lipa, Christine Quinn and Naomi Campbell took to the catwalk in a series of extravagant evening looks. Many of the men’s looks were corseted to create a startling ‘snatched’ effect. Buzz, celebrity, craft, innovation and striking silhouettes: this show had it all.
Photography courtesy of Balenciaga.