Now his third couture show for the house, this season saw radical creative director Demna tap into key moments from Balenciaga’s prolific history. The show returned to its Parisian birthplace at the iconic couture salon of 10 Avenue George V, boasting an expansion that merges the ateliers and office all together. The newly furbished salons feature contemporary design details such as smoked glass that breaks up the original raw stone walls, injecting modernity into the historied space. The setup was clean and crisp, with A capella renditions of opera legend Maria Callas’s work drifted through the rooms, filled by an earnest fashion crowd.
The opening look for this collection referenced house archives from the mid-60s, paying homage to founder Cristobal Balenciaga’s iconic designs. A midnight black dress adorned with velvet flowers and bedecked with an integrated pearl necklace emerged, donned by Balenciaga’s former house model and muse Danielle Slavik. The reimagined ensemble captured Demna’s vision, which was a focus on bridging the past and present.
Tailoring took a creative turn as well, with enlarged necklines that referenced hemlines on suit jackets. There was a return of exaggerated sharp shoulders and dramatically nipped-in waists, all hallmark traits of Demna’s stint at the house. Staple prints such as the Prince of Wales check and signature pinstriped wool were present in several of the menswear looks, made from Japanese denim woven on antique looms.
Trompe l’oeil was omnipresent, however, in the form of hand-painted denim and faux fur instead of the archetypal digital print. Other unique textures—such as houndstooth and python—were also replicated and engraved on lapels and buttons.
Ankle-length evening coats with matching scarves then appeared, their silhouettes windblown yet motionless.This effect was achieved through two full days of hand sculpting by the master class artisans of the house, speaking to the unparalleled craftsmanship of the maison.
Hourglass dresses constructed entirely of Swiss guipure lace and a form-fitting slip number in woven brass chainmail followed, each more intricate than the last. The finale look saw a chrome masterpiece constructed from galvanised resin and 3D-printed armour emerge, amid awe and applause. It closed the collection perfectly, and perfectly demonstrated the choke hold technology has on modern dressmaking and humanity.