Balenciaga is Back and Better Than Ever | Savoir Flair
Paris Fashion Week
Balenciaga is Back and Better Than Ever
by Grace Gordon 5-minute read March 4, 2024

Need a new word for obsessed.

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There are so many elements around the Balenciaga Winter '24 show to dissect – Demna's pre-show voicemail, those antique treasure invites from eBay, the guest list (I officially stan Lisa Rinna's Balenciaga era), the insane set made of 360-degree digital screens that went from day to night/authentic to electronic – but what overrode all of that for me was a new thought. It felt like this was the first time Demna has had fun with his collection in a long time. After the sobering backlash, the faltering sales, and the lackluster Los Angeles-based show last season, the Demna I have grown to adore dimmed his light, put his head down, and went introspective. 

In that time, he has had a few revelations. In a voicemail he recorded before the show, he spoke about the questions he has been pondering lately. "What is luxury? What is fashion and why does it even matter? Who do I do what I do for? Is fashion enough? In a world oversaturated by content, is anything ever enough? What is enough?" For Demna, it wasn't the questions themselves that were important but the act of asking them, of being curious enough to wonder in the first place. But that wondering eventually led him somewhere, "Luxury is defined by a sort of scarcity, something that is not infinitely available. What seems to be truly rare and finite right now is, actually, creativity itself," he concluded.

For Winter '24, Demna flexed his creative muscles, and we are all the better for it. It is a testament to his sharp, well-honed identity that it read as recognizably Balenciaga, yet it felt lighter, more self-assured, more FUN, and far less self-conscious. Naturally, as it always does with Demna's collections, it began in Cristóbal's archives, where he extracted the idea of articulated hips. He called it "Hip-Aulette" construction, formed with shoulder pads embedded in the hips of gowns, giving them an angular appeal. He also took classic Balenciaga draping and rendered it in "frozen" form, suspending its movement in time. 

Then there were the many Demna-isms we've grown to love: vintage-inspired pastiche, ironic logos, deconstructed pieces, streetwear, the haute construction of low-brow items. There were ragged coats that looked like something you might pull from a moth-infested closet at grandma's house that were actually made from resin-treated faux fur. There were eBay shirts and deconstructed trenchcoat dresses. I loved a selection of pieces that took the simple but clever proposition of turning jackets into dresses by moving the sleeves to the front of the garment so that they become part of the draping. As for streetwear, he made Vareuse tops from inverted trousers and elongated parkas to floor-sweeping coat lengths. Then, the most tongue-in-cheek moments of them all arrived: "1-minute looks," where he threw materials like hoodies or undergarments together to create dresses. Finally, let's have a moment for the bags. They were enormous and utterly chic. The Bel Air Carry All has my heart forever. It's not a want; it's a need.

While the designer has made no disguise of the fact that he isn't a fan of the content overload of our digital age, he is also one of its architects. The great irony is that the matriarch of our current age of social media oversharing, Kim Kardashian, is his brand ambassador, and her appearances at his show tend to drown out all other forms of show reporting. There are many factors, from her presence to the screens surrounding the show space at Les Invalides, that could have been distracting. However, the collection remained the hero throughout the presentation – a testament to the infusion of energy and verve Demna has brought to his latest work. 

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It FELT like this is the FIRST time Demna has had fun with his collection in a long time.

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