“This year I decided that I needed to put more of myself into it, and kind of find a new future, you know? (...) This is why the lineup started with very otherworldly, almost futuristic neoprene looks, which was my idea of interpreting gazar in 2022,” are some of Demna's words after the show about Balenciaga's fifty-first haute couture collection, whilst being the Georgian designer's second. And this would explain the dark helmets that hide the identity of the first half of the models, as Demna imagines a gloomy dystopian future that isn't too far off from our present.
And these skin-tight neoprene looks are made in collaboration with a Japanese designer using a unique limestone technique, making it more sustainable than your usual neoprene. The decked-out anonymous models walked out to a poem read out loud by an Artificial Intelligence voice around the words “Je t’aime,” a love letter from Demna to his musician husband BFRND – who also walked the runway – and, in his own words “Because je t’aime is the most beautiful word in the language to me. I realised that couture, what I do, is the only thing I love doing and I want to be doing.”
This doom and gloom were followed by his more than usual streetwear-inspired aesthetic, in an effort to democratise high fashion, by showing off hoodies, parkas and denim made from upcycled originals and even aluminium, meaning that a quarter of the fabrics used in the collection are from recycled materials. Impossible silhouettes, voluminous and also masterfully tailored, optic-illusion inducing teeny tiny waists along with alien-like shoulders were brought to the runway, as well as even bags that work as speakers (or beakers, as some people are coining them) in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen. Basically, all you ever wanted and them some!
And as the models kept walking and showing more and more looks, the sombre vibes sort of vanished into thin air, as we got to see dresses that reminded us of the heritage and look that was once engineered by the master Cristóbal Balenciaga, and re-imagined with a futuristic flair by Demna. These were worn by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Dua Lipa and Nicole Kidman, who weren't used to gracefully strutting down a catwalk in highly-structured dresses, and their walk definitely reflected that, as well as icon Naomi Campbell who obviously had no issues.