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In what perhaps was one of the most emotional, important, and powerful collections of this Fashion Week in Paris, Denma Gvasalia made use of the voice that Balenciaga lends him every season to face the conflict, confront old fears and make it clear that he is no longer afraid, that fashion beyond being a banal discipline is one of the most powerful means of expression, demonstrating that love and compassion can come from any source, even from a man who suffered first-hand the traumas of war.

We know that a collection is not prepared in two days, two weeks, or two months, and although 360º Winter may seem to be made as a direct response to the events that happened these days, Balenciaga's initial concept for this season starts from a different point than the one we are imagining.

Reflecting on the artificial and digital nature of most of life around us, Denma proposes something as natural but subjected to the will of man as the seasons, especially winter, to serve as the setting for his story. A circular enclosure with transparent walls, snow, and artificial wind, reminiscent of a life-size snow globe that seems to try to preserve winter forever, without letting a single flake escape in an eternal loop in which the present is preserved as a souvenir.

Sixty-nine looks walked through the snow, with silhouettes already familiar from Denma's Balenciaga; bodysuits and dresses that fit and twist on the body, total printed looks of dresses that extend to the hands and feet in the form of gloves and tights, the designer's classic hoodie and oversized denim conjuncts and tailored and winter garments more reminiscent of the brand's history. Some of these incorporate a sustainable material with technical qualities that is being developed exclusively by the firm and will be a major commitment in the near future, called Ephea™.

Despite all the preparation, this collection almost didn't see the light. Denma is of Georgian origin and as he describes himself, a “forever refugee,” being a victim of the conflict unleashed in the civil war in his country when he was just a child. He, more than anyone, knows the contradiction that a fashion week in the context of war can be and was aware of this when deciding whether to move ahead with 360º Winter or not. But no, to cancel the show was to give up, to continue suffering for something for which he and no victim is to blame.

This spirit of battle, of strength and persistence, is intrinsically engraved in this collection, at first unconsciously, but with the explosion of the conflict in recent weeks, Denma took it upon himself to make it intentional. One only needs to see the last two looks that walked the runway, one yellow and one blue, a direct nod to a country to whom he feels united by a bond beyond words, one that reminds him of himself and to whom he is trying to help in multiple ways so that in the future they can express themselves as he is doing now.

Natalia Andrea Pérez Hernández

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