Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia is rewriting the rules of couture

In the year 2021, Demna Gvasalia has redefined the reach and possibilities of fashion design. His Balenciaga challenged our assumptions about celebrity, luxury, pop culture, and even reality itself. As designers struggled throughout the pandemic to adapt to virtual fashion shows, Balenciaga seized the opportunity to plunge into the metaverse, partnering with Epic Games, the developers behind Fortnite, to create a video games for fall 2021. A few months later, Balenciaga boots- pants and hourglass jackets appeared on the Gucci catwalk, part of what both brands (which are owned by the corporation) Kering) as a “hacker project”. During the summer, Gvasalia directed two of Kanye West’s stadiums Donda listening parties — and in the midst of all of this, relaunched Balenciaga’s couture, reinventing the direction of the industry, away from the hype and towards the handcrafted. In September, Balenciaga dominated the Met gala red carpet and forged a partnership with Fortnite to allow players to dress in its signature style. At Paris Fashion Week in September, Balenciaga delivered a rare moment of surprise and delight, debuting a 10-minute Balenciaga episode that included The Simpsons.

Gvasalia is a populist interested in subverting fashion; what he did with each of these projects was demolish, brick by brick, the false line between native and luxury. His Crocs loafers, satirical evening gown and leather Ikea bag – all at a luxury price point – captured the masses and exposed the clichés of crystallism. fashion flowers. But with video games, cartoons, and celebrities at their disposal, Gvasalia is finding unexpected ways to expand the reach of a luxury brand.

“I am not interested in anything average, even the average consumer,” Gvasalia wrote to me in an email this fall. “If someone is personally offended by Crocs, there may be a more serious problem inside that person than the design of a shoe.” For those who think they’re doing more than once pointing out the absurdity of Balenciaga’s multi-thousand-dollar mass-produced lowbrow versions of objects: “Everything I do has a reason,” he say. “A trashy evening suit or an ‘unreasonably expensive’ grocery bag not only accidentally entered my collection, but I didn’t consciously place it carefully. Am I aware that this may not be ‘understood’ by casual social media critics? I agree. Do I care? I’m pretty sure you know the answer. I only do fashion that I love and enjoy; it’s really that simple. ”

Gvasalia has flourished in the fashion industry for the past six years as a provocateur, but now he’s stood at the top of it all as a lover, as much as a power practitioner. and biggest fan of it. The 40-year-old Georgia-born designer has drawn streetwear and a popular Eastern European threat into the luxury business, first as the de facto head of the collection. able Vetements, and then, starting in 2015, as artistic director of Balenciaga. He didn’t change the way the world dresses, but he did something more interesting: He codified the way we dress into a sensibly global style that transforms ordinary people into items worthy of worship. In the process, he has positioned Balenciaga as the embodiment of certain cosmopolitan fashions, and the coolest brand on the planet.

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