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5 things to know about Balenciaga's Couture show

From bags as stereo to Couture respect

5 things to know about Balenciaga's Couture show From bags as stereo to Couture respect

Balenciaga's Couture show - the second under Demna's direction - was the 51st for the French fashion house. The event coincided with the reopening of the historic shop located at 10 Avenue George V, where the brand first opened in 1937 and closed 31 years later. If with the Fall Couture 21 show Demna had shown that he could free himself from the stigma of being a designer associated exclusively with sweatshirts and trainers - haute couture denim and taffeta had succeeded in recreating a connection with Cristobal Balenciaga's heritage - with this collection he managed to give further authenticity and coherence to his very personal narrative. From the cast of models and celebrities involved to the silhouettes proposed to the subversive reinterpretation of accessories, we have selected five things to know about the Couture 22 show. 

All the celebrities on the catwalk

Halfway through the show, there was a transition from the shiny black Daft Punk-style masks that opened the show and turned the models into anonymous mannequins, to the dramatic dresses worn bare-faced by celebrities of the calibre of Nicole Kidman, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, Dua Lipa and Edward Camavinga. Demna's approach to the well-known faces of the star system has always been a mixed bag of cynicism and idolatry: from the long-standing collaboration with the (former) Mr and Mrs West to the choice of Isabelle Huppert for the last Couture, celebrities have long been an integral part of the strategy to make the Balenciaga world an integral part of mainstream culture.

Respecting Couture rules

Punctuating the 'unveiling' of the models' faces in the second half of the show is the sudden switch between daytime looks (trench coats and pvc total looks, silk sweatshirts, bomber jackets and distressed icicles) and gala outfits (oversized ruffles and tailor-made midi dresses strictly in silk). According to the Haute Couture tradition, in fact, the brands that have the ambition to show in Paris must present at least 50 original models, both for day and evening, and this is exactly how it was for Balenciaga: going from the total black and cyber punk uniform of the daily looks according to Demna, to the riot of colours of the gala dresses.

Watches are jewellery

Sequin dresses creating illusionary effects with unconventional textures, trompe l'oeil tweeds - obtained by interspersing organza or jersey ribbons with beads and sequins - and the mesh dress with crystals were matched with vintage wristwatches, re-proposed as real jewellery. During the show, in fact, in more than one look we saw some vintage watches used as earrings and necklaces, giving a new purpose to one of the quintessential accessories. 

And handbags are a stereo

Is it a stereo or a handbag? Also catching the eye during the show were the bag-shaped speakers in the hands of the models on the catwalk used to play the catwalk soundtrack. The Speaker Bag, created in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen, is a multifunctional object milled from a block of solid aluminium before being hand-polished and anodised. An item destined to become the grail of many Balenciaga fans. 

The research behind the materials

Craftsmanship and technological innovation meet in the collection: the first total looks are in Japanese neoprene, with 3D printed padding and wetsuit-inspired zips, while the polyurethane masks were designed by Mercedes-AMG F1 Applied Science, a division of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd. T-shirts have been internally lined with aluminium to maintain the 'deliberately wrinkled' effect and the faux fur is achieved by high-definition photographic mapping and weeks of programming, while the dizzyingly narrow waist in the men's looks is ensured by corsetry, incorporated into the wool tops and coats. Everything else - bomber jackets, parkas, coats and vintage jeans - has been deconstructed and reassembled from used clothing, transformed through an upcycling process into entirely new garments, as in the case of the Helly Hansen and Alpha Industries bomber jackets, revisited according to Balenciaga codes.