Homer Simpson wearing an avant-garde red puffer jacket from Balenciaga Spring 2020, Marge Simpson bobbing down the runway in the golden Hersey’s Kiss shaped ball gown gown and Waylon Smithers in the red jumpsuit from Fall 2020—as for what this all has to do with Balenciaga Summer ’22, we’ll get to that a little later.
Brands have explored the many facets of returning to the interdit normality this season, and predictably left field for Balenciaga—previous shows themed on a walk after midnight on the dingier side of Paris and models as players in virtual reality games—Demna Gvasalia decided to hone in on the glitzy night at the theatre. Show invitations were a theatre ticket complete with tear off stub, that invited guests to the “Summer 22 Red Carpet”. Serving up a very meta moment, as guests were seated before the large screen in the Theatre de Chatelet, what was broadcasted to them was the red carpet itself, which was populated with not only VIPs but models wearing actual looks from the Summer ’22 collection.
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Photographers and show-goers alike began to clue in that the red carpet was indeed the show itself, while models looked just as miffed. The cast was made up of friends, models and Balenciaga team members, acting out an ‘automatic performance’. As for the collection, the adherence to a red carpet sensibility went as far as a mainly black palette, while the archetypes of evening wear were subverted. Models strutted in oversized tracksuits, paint splattered trench coats, and ripped denim. When it came to the gowns, these seemed more like an exaggerated statement in spite rather than in conformity with red carpet codes, with one enormous lace dress almost swallowing the model in its overblown form.
In yet another layer of meta-irony, bemused models and VIPs, in genuine bemusement, turned their own phone cameras on the wall of photographers (some of which were hired extras to help create the manufactured red carpet moment), including photographer Juergen Teller, who has been making a few lowkey cameos this season. Actual red carpet invitees included Naomi Campbell, Cardi B and partner Offset, Mark Tuan of GOT7 and Natalia Vodianova. But if they were let in on the active role they were playing in the show, they did not show it.
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And finally when guests were seated and the lights dimmed in the theatre, the irony was complete. It was not for a highbrow theatre production or an art house film that the company of illustrious guests had been invited here to see, but a 10-minute episode of The Simpsons, dubbed “The Simpsons | Balenciaga”. The hallucinogenic episode starred Gvasalia himself, who travels to Springfield to take the entire town to a Balenciaga show at Paris Fashion Week; Anna Wintour, who headed up the fictional front row, and a slew of Balenciaga team members all wearing Balenciaga. And what was it all for? To give Marge Simpson a birthday to remember.