Balenciaga Does a Bang-On Impression of Vetements for Spring/Summer 2018

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Collage – an art form that creates a tapestry from disparate elements – is the easy way to describe Demna Gvasalia’s specific aesthetic. The hard way would be to break down everything into its constituent parts in order to define the whole. This path leads to endless lists of who, what, and where he plucked his elements from – a mode of design some might call derivative. For Gvasalia, that’s the entire point. There is nothing new under the sun, but certain formulations and reiterations of the old can feel new again, according to the designer. That’s why he threw out the Balenciaga textbook for Spring/Summer 2018. It was time to truly make the brand his own, and he achieved that by making it Vetements 2.0 (which, let’s be brutally honest, is really Margiela 3.0).

Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2018
Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

He achieved that by making it Vetements 2.0 (which, let’s be brutally honest, is really Margiela 3.0).

Oversized striped shirting, glossy bowling shirts, color-blocked parkas, tartan skirts, and mixed-print trousers with trompe l’oeil shorts fell prey to Gvasalia’s mix-and-match, collage mentality. Like Margiela, he found humor and fashion in conjoining elements together. For example, across a sleeveless denim vest you might find a normcore beige jacket, dangling limply affront the look, like Joseph Beuys’ empty suit. Or perhaps he could interest you in a plush purple bed jacket impressed into the facade of a leather cape.

In addition to this off-kilter assemblage, the collection centered on a variety of naive elements, like twinsets and peplum polos, as well as prints of nostalgic pastoral scenery, meadows, and sunset beaches that made their way onto trousers and now-iconic Balenciaga pointy-toed sock boots. Speaking of footwear and Gvasalia’s eccentric sensibilities, there were a variety of enormous platform Crocs in the mix. We couldn’t give Christopher Kane a pass on that collaboration, and Balenciaga’s versions fared just as poorly in our estimation. That being said, there is probably someone out there for whom ironic fashion is an obsession and who would be delighted to own a pair.

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