Balenciaga SS23 – Paris Fashion Week
Charlotte Lewis reviews the new collection at PFW
The Balenciaga SS23 show at Paris Fashion Week was staged in a starkly dystopian setting and challenged the fashion industry’s focus on restrictive categories and boxes, while exploring what it means to be a luxury brand. The catwalk for Demna’s cast was a sodden channel dug into the rising mud banks of the Parc des Expositions – “a metaphor for digging for the truth and being down to earth”. This was all the explanation deemed necessary, creating the space for the clothes to speak for themselves and be seen “without labels”.
Opening the show with controversial figure, Kanye West – Ye – kicked things off in utilitarian fashion. Draped in an oversized, padded security jacket, leather trousers and large boots, disproportionately oversized silhouettes were revisited time and again in outerwear and tailoring. In other places classic lines told the story, with neck-to-floor pleated gowns incorporating cape detailing, or slim, cap-sleeved column dresses.
Throughout the collection, muted tones infrequently gave way to shocks of pink, red and yellow to stand out against the background. The cameos of black leather were dramatic and determined, with a long apron dress sporting buckles, zips and large hand-sized grab handles to arouse fetish sensibilities in the aether.
All of the looks became muddier the longer the cast walked in them, almost adding to the intentional deconstruction of ‘the collection’ as a concept. Snake-like, full body-length scarfs in bright colours added a knowing smile to the darker undercurrents, along with fake babies strapped to chests and teddy bear bags highlighting as accessories. In other places, constructions that seemed to integrate giant tote bags into the shoulder will never not be subjects of debate.
The styles and models were androgynous, but while there were uniforms that could be worn by many, individual character was always going to be the true winner on the night. In the end, the Balenciaga SS23 collection is Demna’s call to action for the customer. Who ultimately owns the definition of ‘opulence and luxury,’ the producers, the culture or the individual?
For more information on Balenciaga SS23, click here
Click here to read the Off-White Paris Fashion Week review