• Text Alex James Taylor
  • 3rd October 2016

For your pleasure

At Demna Gvasalia’s second womenswear collection for Balenciaga, Clara 3000’s unsettling remix of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game fed out the speakers, setting the tone for a collection exploring “that subtle connection between haute couture and fetishism… because high fashion is a fetish for luxury.”

The link between the two stems from 1958, that year Cristobal Balenciaga developed his signature silk organza gazar fabric whilst chemist Joseph Shivers invented spandex. Subverting and merging luxury and underground, the atelier and the high street is something Gvasalia has riffed on throughout his work with both Vetements (those DHL tees) and now Balenciaga (last season’s IKEA bags). “To service the fantasies of the modern Balenciaga woman, she now appears encased in Spandex from stiletto-tip to hip,” read the show notes. 

Gvasalia was being quite literal, as a colourful assortment of hybrid spandex leggings-slash-boots came with stilettos peaking at around 100mm, all square-toed and thigh-high. Those blunted toes contrasted the razor-sharp “whaleboned shoulder line” on display, so oversized, so 80s, so Judy Jetson – something we saw in Gvasalia’s debut Balenciaga menswear collection.

Like Cristobal Balenciaga, Gvasalia  is fascinated with adapting silhouettes and adapting a person’s posture through design. Utilising spandex’s stretch, the Georgian designer was able to elongate silhouettes, creating a leggy, knife-edge silhouette that sizzled with S&M undertones. Bold floral dresses inspired by vintage swimwear prints alluded to a 70s influence whilst latex hooded capes with scarf tied hoods appeared to be designed ‘for your pleasure.’

Large, circular holdall bags and more boxy versions that resembled traditional Filipino street shopping bags swung down the runway and models glimmered in a selection of brooches and jewels specially withdrawn from the house’s archive, “which the hand of Cristobal Balenciaga may have pinned to the breasts of his original models.” The most influential designers – which Gvasalia is certainly one – look up as well and down, back as well as forward, weaving historical references with acute detail. Layer upon layer.

Oh Demna, what a wicked game you played to make us feel this way.