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Balenciaga Resort Collection 2023 | vogue

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The Balenciaga show began with the ringing of the opening bell. It was Sunday morning on the New York Stock Exchange, and the traders had been replaced by Pharrell Williams, Ye, Chloe Sevigny, Megan Thee Stallion, Frank Ocean and the city’s mayor, Eric Adams. Wall Street has taken quite a hit in recent weeks; headlines about an impending recession abound. But it suits Balenciaga’s creative director perfectly. Demna has never shunned darkness or threat, and this show was no exception. Latex catsuits completely obscured his models’ faces; they were corporate raiders of a different kind.

“We have to trigger the emotion,” he said backstage, wearing his own face-closing mask. “We live in a terrifying world, and I think fashion reflects that…I think it was pretty urgent, quite an urgent show.” The invitation was a big stack of fake 100s. Yet it is a mistake to view the collection or its presentation as a critique of capitalism. “The most important challenge for any type of creation is to create a desirable product, to create desire. That’s what fashion should do,” Demna said.

To thrill its diverse audience, which is what these mid-season collections are all about, the show has been split into three parts. It started with the introduction of a new “Garde-Robe”, or wardrobe, of what Demna described as “high-end classic clothing”. The offering, he said, was inspired by the relaunch of the house’s couture collection last year, which was built on a couture foundation. “I realized we were missing that segment of the classic wardrobe,” he explained. Here, classic meant suits and overcoats, cut in the oversized, drop-shouldered shape that Demna favors, and which became hugely influential at all levels of fashion as a result of this couture debut. Pussy-bow blouses in voluptuous silk jacquard a la Melanie Griffith in A hard worker served as accompaniments. Adding to that 80s feel – and the real threat of the day – a man was shot and killed on the subway not far from the Bourse shortly before the show started.

The second element of the collection was evening wear in the form of sequined second-skin dresses and silk trench dresses with trains whose supreme elegance was not compromised by the padded pneumatic pumps with which they were worn. In contrast, the oversized lace-up boots that were paired with many other looks in the series and modeled by Ye in the front row were odd in their proportions.

Part three showcased Demna’s collaboration with adidas. If he tried to shed Balenciaga’s image as a maker of high-end hoodies with Garde-Robe – and did a great job of it – this section confirmed the continued dominance of the sportswear category. There were tracksuits, scale tees, boxer dresses and track dresses, all sporting adidas’ signature stripes, a modified trefoil logo or the Balenciaga name spelled in its partner’s lowercase font. Much of it was available for purchase or pre-order on Balenciaga.com directly after the show.

Against the backdrop of a glitching stock market and impending system crash, this Balenciaga show was confident, versatile, and a bit dangerous. It’s Demna everywhere.