Tuesday 25th September

| BY Claudia Croft

Balenciaga: Ready-To-Wear SS19

IRL? At Balenciaga, we stepped into The Matrix. This show was a total immersion experience, which took place inside a vast tunnel entirely lined with LED screens. The audience sat inside an installation by artist Jon Rafman which first projected virtual raindrops, then swelling mercury seas followed by waves of computer-generated fire. Through this mighty morphing backdrop, the models strode. The show opened with a black pinstripe hourglass coat dress, so immaculately tailored and smoothly moulded it looked like it had been 3D printed – a technique the house had been experimenting with.

From the very first look, designer, Demna Gvasalia was intent on upgrading our wardrobe software with curvilinear, future-facing looks – office was for 2050. Bodycon dresses had spliced away splits and voluminous silk shirts with dramatically popped collars were tucked into tiny skirts. For women and men Gvasalia stripped the suit down, Mao-style, to a boxy shirt and matching trousers. It was so minimal – of line and idea – but utterly chic. There were some glitchy (in a good way) moments too – crystal Eiffel towers danced across men’s suits and touristy love hearts hung from ears. Where are we at with branding (Demna is a bellwether)? It sticker taped across tights and clutch bags and the Balenciaga label, usually stitched inside, popped up (like a mistake in the code) on the shoulder seam of a jacket.

A new version of the brand name swirled across men’s car coats and women’s crystal evening dresses referenced the font nerds favourite Comic Sans, formatted like dummy the copy default, Lorem Ipsum (Google it, kids). Fashion’s current obsession with trainers was deleted from this catwalk and replaced by versions of a metal spike heeled sandal. This was an awe-inspiring show. The audience were spat out into the sunlight, dazzled and moved. The best thing? Away from the matrix these terrific clothes will excel IRL. Plug yourself in.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.