Monday 30th September

| BY Claudia Croft

Balenciaga: Ready-To-Wear SS20

It wasn’t a fashion show, it was a total sensory experience. In a vast film studio on then outskirts of Paris Demna Gvasalia staged an immersive happening. We passed from the grey Paris morning through a sensory cleansing, blackout box and emerged in a vast and entirely blue auditorium where everything – the walls, spiralling carpeted runway and rows of delegates chairs – was the same shade. And then the show started.

“LOOK 1: Neda Brady, an architect, wears an unstructured uniform with embroidered business logos and removable whalebones at the shoulders, with a VIP pass necklace.”

The 91-look show featured real people, dressed in a work uniform. The inspired cast included artists, engineers, law students, gallerists, plus Bella Hadid. There were real faces, all ages but some models had their cheekbones or lips exaggerated by prosthetics – the strange and enhanced future of beauty in Gvasalia’s eyes.

You could describe the opening passage of dark suits, as security guard chic, but it was full of clever touches – the whalebone struts holding up the shoulder line of the jackets could be taken out to create a different silhouette, LED logos glowed on the arms of the sunglasses, credit card earrings dangled down.

It was like a UN conference directed by David Lynch. Sniff the air. Was that the whiff of money or petrol? The house pumped smells into the space to stimulate all the senses. The experience was further heightened by trompe l’oeil prints of denim jackets, and jeans on silk pyjama separates. They looked heavy and light at the same time. There were so many great clothes and several talking point moments. A series of inflatable down jackets looked like a tribute to the giant jacket account @itsmaysmemes.

Nadja Auermann walked in a strangle-collar open-backed fetish gown made with layers of negligee-like satin. But the viral moment belonged to a series of extraordinary crinolined gowns, in sweetie wrapper metallics or matte stretch velvet. Those bell shaped crins could be removed and the dress worn down, but the size and scale of them seemed to fit the message of the show. It was an epic display of fashion virtuosity and 360-degree showmanship. Bravo!