Paris Fashion Week 2022: Balenciaga leads the way

dhe invitations say it all. For the Loewe show, the moped couriers bring red anthurium blossoms to the hotels of the fashion editors. The bright flamingo flower with the large umbels determines the theme. For spring-summer 2023, the brand, which belongs to the LVMH group, sees anthuriums on clothing, bras, shoe decorations and metal breastplates covered with ceramic paint. “A natural product that looks like a design object and is treated as such”: Loewe designer Jonathan Anderson’s description gives only a blurred picture of how a collection can flourish with the shapes and colors of nature.

Alphonse Kaiser

Responsible editor for the “Germany and the World” section and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin.

The prêt-à-porter week could be described by the invitations – then you don’t even have to drive to the shows, some of which take place far away from the city center. The self-image is revealed in the card, which is placed in a calligrapher-addressed envelope. Chanel: big and powerful. Givenchy: black and cool. MiuMiu: transparent and swinging. Hermès: minimalist and warm. Isabel Marant: Exactly — the dates are on a tape measure.

An antithesis of polished luxury?

But all this is nothing compared to Balenciaga. Demna, who as a designer has no last name, has a dirty old leather bag sent as an invitation. Inside are credit cards, loyalty cards, a receipt of the “Marché Vegan” (111.75 euros), 150 old French francs and an identity card: Natalia Antunes, born October 2, 1955, French, lives in Paris, 1.70 meters tall. A found object as an entrance ticket. And a clue to a biographical mission? Who is Natalia Antunes? Natalia: most likely an Eastern European. Antunes: most likely a Portuguese.

Already wrong thought. “I hate boxes and I hate labels and I hate being labeled and put in a box,” Demna writes in his “shownotes.” The designer, who comes from Georgia, grew up in Germany, lives in Zurich and works in Paris, does not want to be pigeonholed. You guessed it: the huge Balenciaga Hall is lined with stinking mud. After the show, he’ll say this is “the antithesis of polished luxury,” a critique of the sterile system. He operates the system himself, with logo caps for 350 euros and garbage bags for 1,400 euros: the Demna paradox of the capitalist critic of capitalism.

Flowery: lion

photo series

Paris Fashion Week 2022

Paris Fashion Week 2022

Walking on dirty water, led by Kanye West, sad characters, angry, broken, hopeless: metaphysical homelessness on the catwalk. The existential impact of Balenciaga fashion was first felt on March 6, in the Fall-Winter show, in which refugee figures desperately battled a winter storm. Less than two weeks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that was a blatant signal to the jaded clientele on the front row. Many guests cried. The shivering models were wrapped in emergency blankets backstage. As a native Georgian, Demna knows Russian aggressors.

“For me it was a logical next step,” says the designer backstage. “Because what happens when the snow melts?” This leaves only 275 cubic meters of peat mud for spring and summer 2023 – inspired by Santiago Sierra, who filled the Kestner Society in Hanover with mud in 2013: “His installations are So the black-brown mass sticks to the walls and forms a huge dark cavity in the center, reminiscent of a mass grave. Is that Balenciaga? Only the bag, which looks like a sleeve, was a reference to Cristóbal Balenciaga, Demna says. “It was mainly a show of myself.” He allows his own opinion; as arguably the most influential designer in the world, he can afford it.

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