When Demna made his debut as creative director of Balenciaga his A/W 16 show was, in hindsight, surprisingly simple. His introduction was marked with subversive silhouettes in the Georgian designer's homage to the structural codes implemented by Cristobal Balenciaga. Clever styling tricks refreshed sartorial staples with parkas, tailored and denim jackets shaped like couture cocoon coats parading down a stark white runway. Of course, as seasons came and went the shows got progressively more cinematic with collections embracing underground subcultures (and all the dark details that define them). Pulling from rave and BDSM culminated in the brand's controversial Spring 2023 campaign that had many questioning Demna's future at the Parisian house.
For Balenciaga's Fall 2023 campaign, Demna is pulling focus back on the clothes with an exploration on the simple pleasures of getting dressed up. Models in a Balenciaga store fitting room take selfies in quintessentially Demna silhouettes. Experimenting with volume and contrasting materials, puffer, biker, skater and varsity style jackets are wrapped around the body, showcasing the versatility of creative styling. With clothes, bags and shoes littered around the space — including mainstays like the Knife heels and Le Cagole bag — we dare you not to yearn for the fun of an afternoon spent shopping.
'Fashion has become a kind of entertiainment, but often that part overshadows the essence of it, which lays in shapes and volumes, silhouettes, the way we create relationships between body and fabric, the way we make shoulder lines and armholes, the way clothes have the ability to change us,' Demna explained in the show notes of his A/W 23 collection — his first show since the controversies which plagued the brand late last year.
Demna's vision has long been under a magnifying glass of interpretation with critics and consumers alike vehemently trying to decode what it is the designer is trying to say. Well, as he and Balenciaga recalibrate their marketing strategy, simplistic campaigns like this might just be what's needed to avoid problematic misunderstandings in today's increasingly conservative sociopolitical climate. Still, if there is one act that warrants being analysed it's Kering CEO, François-Henri Pinault, wearing a Balenciaga suit to Met Gala this week. Should we take it as a sign that Demna isn't going anywhere soon?
Balenciaga's fall 2023 collection is available on Balenciaga.com and stores now.