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Balenciaga's quantum leap for the FW21 season

Demna Gvasalia's new collection was presented with a video game

Balenciaga's quantum leap for the FW21 season  Demna Gvasalia's new collection was presented with a video game

According to physics and science fiction, a "quantum leap" is the sudden transition from one quantum system to another, with no intermediate phases. And that's exactly what Balenciaga did with the unveiling of its FW21 collection that turned into a video game called Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow (a name that already attracted its first online controversy), set in a futuristic New York populated with drones and flying buses - as well as a series of in-game characters wearing the looks of the new collection.  It is an ambitious project, the largest fashion video project ever made according to the same brand – and mixes, unexpectedly, a fantasy of medieval flavor with dystopian science fiction. 

In an interview with WWD, Gvasalia defined the clothes as a «a modern day armor», a metaphor that would be misre bit if the Georgian designer had not taken it completely literally by combining the outfits of his characters with elements of a real medieval armor. In the development of the project, during which he wanted to keep away from the field of fashion films, Gvasalia discovered how couture and game design are similar disciplines: «I have been fascinated by video games’ aesthetic and how it developed since the Nineties to now». The concept of sustainability has also been approached from a completely unusual angle. Speaking about the distressing and artificial aging treatments that numerous garments present, Gvasalia said:

«I believe the sustainable and smart consumption in the future will encourage us to wear our clothes until they fall apart and decay, so this collection is full of clothes that look old, somewhat worn in and pretty destroyed.».

The medium of the video game allows Gvasalia to enhance the sculptural dimension of the looks, which can be analyzed in maximum detail and at 360 ° after conlusing the "allegorical journey" of the video game. The novelty compared to the previous collections is the addition of a texture and patina look to the classic Gvasalia designs, which makes the clothes on the one hand more colorful and on the one hand equipped with an "aged" patina that is both part of the apocalyptic-dystopian moodboard imagined for the collection is the result of the upcycling of waste materials of the brand. There will be, in a limited edition, a leather version of the boots in the shape of armor that can be seen through the fifty looks of the collection – boots that, for the game, were created in an authentic metal version by an artisan French specialized in historical reconstructions.

On the pop aesthetics side, there are also appearances from the NASA and PS5 logos – an attempt that, as Gvasalia himself has admitted, is aimed at the ever-growing audience of gamers (« It’s an important luxury customer base») but it also looks at the neo-occultist culture of manifesting that is taking hold in America and on social media. The final scene of the game, with the protagonist breathing after facing her journey, is loaded with spiritualistic messages that are aligned with a conscience and a fear of the future that are absolutely modern. Gvasalia told Vogue:

«I believe in a future that is spiritual. […] Young people are getting more spiritual in their own way. I’m part of this movement. I’ve had life-coaching and therapy to overcome the traumas of my life. I meditate. We have to learn to calm down and let things go. Say goodbye to the old world. Let go of the past. A lot of new things are being born now.».

For the future, Gvasalia plans a further exploration of the video game. There is great potential, in his opinion, in the fusion of the two languages, not to mention the possible implications for in-game shopping. A type of technological approach that demonstrates the capital importance that cross-sectority has in today's fashion and that could contaminate even the Couture collection that Gvasalia is preparing to present in the coming months. According to the designer, in fact: «Sky's the limit».