SAMO discusses the Balenciaga Men’s FW17 collection
This collection is arguably Demna’s most impactful punch at the fashion industry, probably even more so than his sly digs while at the fashion industry’s rebellious brand Vetements. It also drew a lot of references from an unlikely source being American Politician Bernie Sanders; this is for the similarities between the new Balenciaga logo and the one used for Bernie’s 2016 Democrat Political Campaign (don’t really care for politics, thought this was cool though).
More of the reason why I say this collection was impactful is because now Demna has the backing of a much larger and established fashion house such as Balenciaga so by virtue of that, his satirical references reach a much larger audience. My personal take on Demna since he arose from his Vetements days is that he is aiming to do something much bigger than creating garments within the fashion stratosphere; he is single-handedly disrupting the industry at large and turning it on its head. He is re-defining not only fashion itself but the lens which we view it through and this is extremely uncomfortable for fashions “old guard” because with this re-definition lies an incredible amount of change.
At some point in time, fashion got bored and there was a huge disconnect between the youth (us) and luxury fashion houses of a few years ago. As Kanye West once described himself as “the Robin Hood of Fashion”, i feel as if this metaphor applies perfectly to Demna. Do not focus on the irony of the complete contrast between how Robin Hood would steal from the rich and give to the poor and the ridiculously exorbitant prices Vetements and Balenciaga charge (really, its waay to much) but focus rather on the mindset that Demna has instilled within us.
Arguably a streetwear designer, he is the creative director of one of the biggest fashion luxury house’s which was established on the basis of its founder, Mr Cristobal Balenciaga’s love for haute couture. How crazy is that? In that sense, Demna has stolen from the “elite” and passed it on to the “non-elite”. Gone are the days where the name Balenciaga evokes connotations of an esteemed and wealthy upper-class French woman. The House has expanded to the point where even local South African artists (such as Riky Rick) can openly wear and express their infatuation with the House. This enables us to trigger our right to free thought: in the sense that we can also feel an attachment to the House’s clothes while not even owning an item. The internet has given us the power to information and therefore, new ideas – hence forming the basis of this article that i am writing.
The AW17 collection was highlighted by the introduction of the highly talked about Balenciaga Triple-S sneaker, which is personally my favourite sneaker to come out of 2017 (alongside the Gucci Rhyton sneaker). Secondly, I liked the contrasts between the fits of the clothes on the models and their weight figures; from the “ill-fitting” chino-looking pants to the looser fitting suits and extremely-lengthy coats. It’s beautiful to see how Demna has merged his street influence with his formal wear oh so effortlessly. Below are classic examples:
The styling and accessories had an undeniable “Vetements feel” and that can all be attributed to the influence of Demna’s ever-so-provocative personal stylist Lotta Volkova (Check out her IG: @lottavolkova). From their partnering days at Vetements, Lotta has been attributed with a lot of the success which Demna has enjoyed. Her extremely robust and vulgar, disruptive and left-field approach to fashion and styling ensures that you indeed feel a piece of her artistic intent with each and every model which walks down the runway.
He was greatly criticised for his usage of his friends as models during the show and a lack of diversity with limited models of colour. However, i share a bit of a different view as this did not really annoy me much. I feel as if the models weirdly “fit the rubric of the show”, leaving me with a similar after-taste as a Gosha Rubchinskiy fashion show in Russia. Two of my favourite looks did come from the black models though (just saying). Check out my two favourite looks below:
Otherwise, this collection receives a solid 8 out of 10 from me. I know i have quite a bias towards Demna but in my opinion, this is a collection which set Demna well on his way to stardom there at Balenciaga.
Lastly, thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post and welcome. I look forward to creating more content for any readers and allowing my artistic opinions to be endeared and criticised by the environment at large. This is the beginning of amazing things.