Chaotic, powerful and startlingly realistic, Balenciaga’s FW22 collection has to be the most stylish snowglobe we’ve ever had the pleasure of shaking. But before the wind machines started to blow, attendees including the likes of Kim Kardashian and Alexis Stone (dressed as Mrs Doubtfire) took care to note a personal note from Gvasalia placed on each seat that detailed his own experience as an immigrant, alongside t-shirts baring the colours of the Ukrainian flag. “This show needs no explanation,” it concluded. “It is a dedication to fearlessness, to resistance, and to the victory of love and peace.”
Set in a not-so-distant future ravaged by environmental catastrophe, where even snow is considered an exotic luxury made only by man, models braved the cold with plastic bin bags, slinky catsuits embedded with hybridised black capes and thigh-high boots big enough to accrue their own postcodes. As a soundtrack, Demna recited a poem in Ukrainian, while in the tundra, Bella Hadid battled the conditions, covered head-to-toe in a white bodysuit paired off with a lacy camisole, and some Balenciaga-branded warning tape bringing a suit of mummification back into the public conscious.
Accessories maintained their sci-fi allegiance in goggles of curvaceous, alien forms that engulfed the face, a winking precursor to a mix of heavy bass beats that, soon enough, saw the show hurtle into rave-ready territories of thumping techno and unrelenting gabber. Instead of dancing, models willed themselves through the gale-forces at-large in the chunky structured coats and oversized hoodies that have come to define Demna’s most evident rule of thumb: whatever it is, the bigger, the better.
Peppering this muted mix of casual pullovers and voluminous outerwear were hints of a decadent and humorous life of the past. A gaudy floral look here, a slouchy vest comprised of jeans there. One model needed only a folded towel to make an impression on this story, perhaps fleeing to a hot tub to wait out the storm in death-defying comfort. But it was the closing look that truly encapsulated this snapshot, a deep blue mini-dress whose billowing blue train stretched for miles across the infinite terrain. Telling its own story as it faced off with a new, artificial reality, who else but Demna could find this much glamour in a looming apocalypse?
GALLERYCatwalk images from Balenciaga FALL-WINTER-22