On Sunday, the final day of the seventh consecutive week of a falling Dow, a new gathering took place in front of the New York Stock Exchange. This gathering took place at the same time as giants of business and finance were convening in Davos, Switzerland, for a delayed World Economic Forum.
They were not there for the “Occupy Wall Street redux” demonstration or any other kind of protest against the current financial conditions. They were there for the Balenciaga spring 2023 presentation, which was the brand’s first display ever to be staged outside of Paris. It was also the first show ever to be held on the trading floor of the metaphorical throbbing heart of American wealth production and destruction. They were there for the show.
No matter what people think about Demna, the mononymous creative director of Balenciaga (is he a genius, a scam, or the most important designer of his time? ), the fact remains that he is one of the most influential designers of his generation. It cannot be denied that he has great timing.
Or that at a time when so much seems to be reduced to the fleeting and the microscopic, from the daily fads on TikTok to clothing subcultures, he is the uncommon designer of huge ambition, eager to take massive swings at our shared reality: climate change, celebrity culture, and war. And now, the monetary issue.
That is about as obvious as it gets in terms of remarks about the fetishization of money, its hazards and attraction, not to mention the perils and attractiveness of coming back to the office, and there aren’t many statements that are clearer than that.
In case you were unaware, it has occurred on several occasions already. Every one of the models wore the bodysuit, which covered their faces and left some of them with tufts of hair protruding from the top. Their uniqueness was concealed by the chase of wealth, and they were all slaves to their jobs and the fashion industry, which is the beating heart of the city.
There were men dressed in power suits that were aggressive and well fitted. They are, in fact, the type of garments that confer confidence from the outside in, once the style and the cultural commentary are peeled away. There were trench coats with sac-backs that were belted around the hips, plissé polka-dot dresses, crocodile-print leather skirts, and “Working Girl” blouses that were elevated to the executive suite. Also, giant romper-stomper clown boots, pumps enclosed in what looked like miniature inflatable life rafts and a briefcase-like “Money” bag that unzipped from bottom.
According to a press release from Balenciaga, the office wear is really the beginning of a new range called Garde-Robe that involves “wardrobe basics” and will be a kind of perpetual offering between ready-to-wear and couture.
The brand’s most recent collaboration, Balenciaga/Adidas, complete with three stripes on suiting and sweats, the trefoil atop a lowercase “balenciaga” on T-shirts, and some really terrific Crayola-bright bathrobe coats, were scattered throughout the collection along with bare, body-conscious gowns, swishy satin separates (including a great pair of evening pyjamas and satin trench complete with train),
Of course, it was still about money; streetwear and the category that is closely connected to it, athletic clothing, is the current market fixation of high fashion firms. However, in a manner that was considerably less daring and more predictable than what came before it. After all, this partnership comes on the heels of a successful one between Adidas and Gucci, as well as another with Prada.
Up until that time, there was (thankfully) not a single logo on display. This was a reflection of the fact that ever since he started at the firm, Demna has built such a distinct design signature that it is recognised even without the inclusion of any further letters. The fact that there is not much of a difference from one season to the next is one of the main points. Simply battering ram shoulders and hips fashioned with couture nips and tucks; the everyday made into something completely different.
The power to get you to look, and then get you to think about it again. Perhaps we will go back to work and put on our uniforms. It’s possible that we shouldn’t. In any case, we need to at least think about the repercussions and the price that it will cost us.