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Balenciaga takes us into the future

With a show that is pure avant-garde

Balenciaga takes us into the future With a show that is pure avant-garde

Paris Fashion Week's Sunday morning was revitalised by the futuristic SS19 Balenciaga collection, a cutting-edge show created by Demna Gvasalia

Starting from the location, the runway appeared immediately very interesting. The runway, in fact, was basically an installation by Canadian visual artist Jon Rafman: models would walk in a tunnel of screens that alternated images of fire, rain, space and Windows update message, before turning into darker nuances. Rafman's work explores the impact technology has on our lives and our society and, judging from the visuals and the techno soundtrack of the show, it's not a good one. 

Even though the location could have been highly distracting, the collection did not take a back seat. Demna managed to not remain stuck in his definition of mainly streetwear items designer - we owe him the current obession for Dad Sneakers, hoodies and tracksuits - creating more grown-up and reasoned pieces, but that doesn't mean they're not fit for his younger audience too. As Gvasalia himself stated, SS19 collection revolved around the concept of neo-tailoring: young demohgraphics usually prefer wearing tracksuits and sneakers rather than tailored items, and that was the challenge, making suits as wearable and comfortable as tracksuits. For a brand growing faster than Gucci, the action plan was creating items, not only accessories, really wearable, therefore purchasable.  

Demna's neo-tailoring consisted of 80s inspired silhouettes, with big shoulders and tiny waits, revisitation of his C-Line. Thw show opened with super square and sculptural coats, in different textures and colors, while men were wearing squared blazers paired with tailored pants, precisely. Then the silhouette got more gentle and refined, with oversized shirts with the collar open and up, worn with ruffled midi skirts. After a reworking of the concept of turtleneck, through tight dresses with lateral cut, printed minidresses, wide dresses that almost become capes and fluid jumpsuits with a knot belt, came the no-shoulder section. Jackets and shirts appear as one, turning into a sort of uniform to be worn with matching pants, both for women and men, in nuances that range from black and pinstriped to burgundy and grey. The final four looks, lastly, would have been worth of a Haute Couture show: Demna rivisits the concept of fabric developments, bringing on the catwalk dresses that are built around the models' bodies, like the red dress out of a single 4-meter piece of silk, and the way he came up with two-piece evening suits in the shape of a shirt and a sarong skirt. 

For this collection, Demna played with the logo in a more sublte way, logo that in the past would have been at the center of his designs, becoming one of the reasons of his success. The writing Balenciaga Paris, in different fonts, like the super uncool Comic Sans, covers girly dresses with straps, men's shirts worn with leather skinny pants, deconstructed or sculpture dresses, while the classic logo appears on simple colorful T-shirts and tight tops to be worn underneath the jacket, plus the Eiffel Tower prints comes on coats and short dresses.

The accessories did not let down. Second skin high boots with squared tip, leather trapeze clutches with logo, pointy stilettos with straps, which also decored the tote bags, while men sported simple black leather shoes and cowboy boots. Demna, in his evolution into a grown-up fashion designer, did not bring on the catwalk any sneaker. 

The cast of the show was diverse, from Millenials to Baby-Boomers, and reflects perfectly the kind of audience Demna wants to appeal to. He was able to overcome the concept of sportswear (something not easy, think of Off-White), or in any case to interpret it in a new and different way, creating a glamour, polished but wearable collection, that will soon be photographed on the streets around the world.