Over the last six months, the secret machinations of Balenciaga HQ have come under culture-wide inspection. What really happened behind closed doors last November? And what does it mean when Demna’s designs get reintroduced into the fashion conversation? This season’s presentation offered a glimpse through the keyhole at Balenciaga’s maison on Avenue Georges V – with hardcore aesthetes scuttling in and out of the entrance, while couriers, dog-walkers, and skaters traipse past. The film, directed in one continuous shot by Mau Morgó, made the exchange of ideas between the street and the atelier – something which has always intrigued Demna – into an infinite feedback loop.
In a subsequent press release, the brand describes the collection as “an observation of metropolitan motion”, where models flag down taxis and retrieve pennies from the ground. A focus on the more boring accents of everyday life represents a side-step from the surreal and provocative presentations of Balenciaga’s past – where models charged through muddied trenches and man-made blizzards – as if to reposition the label as thoroughly and unconditionally normal. Shopping bags are encrusted in rhinestones, and towel-wrap skirts are identical to actual towels, while totes have been made to look like someone is transporting a pair of leather stiletto boots in their hand. Nothing to see here! Just ordinary people doing ordinary things in ordinary clothes! Right…?
In parodying these kinds of familiar objects, Demna manages to make a meme of mundane life, which, for obvious reasons, seems to be something he’s been craving over recent months. See also: the motorcycle pantaboots and the winklepicker office shoes. An accompanying lookbook – shot in the atelier with views onto the Place Vendôme and the Arc de Triomphe – brings the collection into closer focus. There are the usual trapezoid coats and duvet puffers alongside bulwark-shouldered tailoring and bug-eyed sunglasses, but there are also trench-fronted denim jackets, shrunken hoodies, tinsel-tasselled columnar gowns, and over-lengthened clutches in patent leather. Click through the gallery above to see the rest of Demna’s SS24 collection at Balenciaga.