This past weekend saw Demna rock up to the epicentre of global business, setting his latest Balenciaga runway in the middle of the New York Stock Exchange. The invite: a stack of fake $100 bills.
For some, the proceeding catwalk symbolised anti-fashion. Besides a couple of synthetic pigtails in lurid shades of blue, red and orange, some equally extreme makeup and hair looks were almost totally absent, replaced instead with the sexual intrigue of sheeny gimp suits. Demna is hardly the first (or last) designer to toy with the constricting and severe material as a means of stylistic expression, with the likes of Olivier Theyskens, Gareth Pugh, Walter Van Beirendonck, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jeremy Scott and Richard Quinn to name a few all previously wooing the fashion world by embracing fetish. The designer’s choice of material was merely a continuation of his minimal approach to dress that spares intricate fastenings, pleats and other details in favour of emphasising the figure and only the figure – and a hot take on the way big business loves to fuck us all, perhaps.
Embellishments did come in silhouettes lifted from the street, however, a heady mix of baggy Adidas shirts (this season’s trusted collaborator), footie tees and chunky gym holdalls. Amongst flickering Nasdaq reports, there were dresses in polkadots, gabardine dresses with ruffled neck-ties, deconstructed suits in faded pinstripes or striking trefoil stripes, snakeskin trench coats, pussy bows in camel-hued silks and XXXXXXXL track jackets that hit the knee with their dramatised proportions. Lube it or hate it, Demna evidently exceeded in making some of the audience sweat – also throwing in a little sex positivity, as a treat.
GALLERYCatwalk images from Balenciaga SPRING-SUMMER-2023