When Demna conceptualised the Balenciaga Fall Winter 2022 show, the war in Ukraine had not happened. Which is why the parallels that show goers drew — the snowfield brought to mind deep Ukrainian winters, the idea of watching the struggles of others through glass (like the glass of our smartphone screens) — were at least in part, serendipitous. By the time the news of the war broke on Feb 24, it was less than two weeks from Balenciaga’s show date, and Demna revealed that he considered cancelling the presentation. In the show notes, he expressed that this new conflict triggered old traumas of his own displacement as a refugee during the Russo-Georgian War, and he felt that in such times, fashion ‘loses its relevance and its actual right to exist.’
However, the original idea behind the show — staged in a simulated blizzard, which guests watched from outside a circular glass enclosure — was so powerful that Demna went ahead with his original plans. We are proposed a vision of a future not too far away, when things we now take for granted, like the weather, are irreparably altered by the effects of climate change, and that the four seasons could only possibly be experienced through simulations, if things don’t change.
The collection elaborates on established codes: The hybrid dresses and bodysuits, sculptural puffers, integrated gloves and boots. Irony is served generously, with oversized hoodies featuring a logo that looks like tech giant Apple, accompanied by the words ‘Be Different’, as well as a Balenciaga branded packaging tape fashioned into belts.
Though the original concept of the Balenciaga show was been motivated by current events, Demna paid tribute to Ukraine with two looks that referenced the colours of the Ukrainan flag — yellow and blue — and T-shirts with the flag’s motif were given to guests, along with his’s heartfelt note.
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