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The artificial winter of Balenciaga FW22 collection

How Demna spoke of the future and paid tribute to the Ukrainian Resistance

The artificial winter of Balenciaga FW22 collection How Demna spoke of the future and paid tribute to the Ukrainian Resistance

Balenciaga's show for the FW22 collection staged yesterday in Paris had a dual theme: the first was the original one of the show, the dystopian vision of a future world in which the winter season no longer exists and nature can only be experienced through a screen and snow is something exotic, to be looked at through the case of a museum; the second and more immediate, but no less important or personal for Demna, was the support to the Ukrainian cause, supported materially through the World Food Programme and symbolically with the presence of Ukrainian flags and a personal note by Demna on the seats of the guests as well as with the two final looks of the show. Quite surprisingly, by the way, the two concepts meshed perfectly. Many of the clothes (especially the tailored ones) were built to be easily foldable and transportable: a fashion reference to a dystopian future and a glimpse of a future marked by climate change, but also an acute reference to the refugee emergency caused by the Russian invasion.

After the series of "technological" shows of the pandemic era (which went from Resort 2021 to Pre-Fall 2022 and subverted the format of the classic fashion show) this show appeared as a sort of sequel to the apocalyptic FW20 collection, the one with the flooded catwalk, to be clear, but with such a strong political connotation, also due to Demna's own experience in his native Georgia at the time of the Russian campaign of conquest and also due to the climate of unease that has begun to be felt in recent days. Even without the specter of war on the horizon, however, the future imagined by the show remains something deeply anxiogenic: the venue of the show, with the circular walkway enclosed in glass, was built that way not only to prevent artificial snowflakes from invading the room, but also to remind us together how screens separate us from real life and to be a sort of big glass ball full of snow, a souvenir of times when nature was still nature and seasons existed.

To mention Miles Socha of WWD, with so many symbolism and references, «It was very hard to pay attention to the clothes». And if the collection had its stand-out moments (the Trash Bags made of leather or the cashmere towel, for example) the clothes themselves were a variation of those silhouettes and constructions that are part of Demna's now established language. Yet their merits and especially their novelties were perhaps more subtle than usual. The collection, in fact, featured a higher degree of technical sophistication than usual: the pre-crumpled fabrics and "folding" constructions of trench coats and double-breasted suits, the bags created from refunctionalized boots, the new HD sneaker composed of a single flexible piece, and, most importantly, the new bio-based material produced from mycelium named EPHEATM «woven from an abundant, quickly growing organism that uses minimal resources and emits trace amounts of CO2 as it feeds on low-value agro-industrial residue» and used to create a long leatherette coat.