Now that social media has made us all famous, it’s hard to say what fame actually means. Does this mean many followers? Is a career doing something that is special, or at least something that everyone cares about? Perhaps it’s about a kind of magnetism.
Or is it actually the culture of fame – the things floating around – that defines it? That’s what I started to think at the Balenciaga show on Saturday night, where the fashion audience, usually in the position of judge and curator, changed into star roles quite brightly and then, as soon as possible, returned to the audience in grateful roles. The evening began with a strange red carpet, where participants repeated step by step in front of screaming photographers, either intentionally or by mistake. This is a testament to the creative director Demna Gavasalia’s acceptance of the most common archeological features and questioning their reality. It was really like fame: sometimes you protest it and sometimes a bunch of people take pictures of you looking stupid! Outside of the screams was a huge crowd of French teenagers, they were trying to tell the difference between faceless fashion editors and real celebrities like Elliott Page and Offset and Cardi B; And once inside the Theater du Chatlet, a houseman-era opera house, guests sank into their velvet chairs and stared at the screen, where the red carpet scrum was flowing outside. Suddenly, a classic Balenciaga looker in a hysterical-sized black gown appeared and several people were present on the second and third levels of the porch, many of them Balenciaga staff began to shout and clap. Oh, we all understood at once. Red carpet procession Was Display.
Some of these models were real celebrities, others, many of whom were Balenciaga employees, were treated the same, which made the difference meaningless. It highlights the remarkable way that the red carpet has turned into an industry: it Is Show, it Is Events. Reward shows, dinners, and parties become significant for energy gatherings and muscular messages when a celebrity dresses up, takes a few steps, and then pauses and smiles and prunes.
It’s apparently an idea that Gvasalia wanted to do for a while, but time – as well as the sheer demonic power around Balenciaga at the moment – says something interesting about where his ambitions lie. There are designers who tell us where to go, and designers who reflect the world towards us. Gabasalia, now in her sixth year at home, does both. Just a few years ago, he was a white-hot guy who indulged in streetwear. He brought weirdness, hoodies, and ambiguity to the runway, and seemed to cool consumers with the annoying and fancy crocuses and Ikea bags of the average pair. But over the past year she has started to do something completely different, taking Kim Kardashian as a vector of her vision, penetrating metavars, making her the focal point of her creative production, creating fashion performance art with Kanye West. And it’s an ambition so broad that it can only adequately fit into a truly popular, truly cross-generational, truly global appeal.
That’s why the second half of the show was a special 10-minute Balenciaga-Fide episode Simpsons.
Gavasalia recalls her matte gala look after taking a bow in the black-out fit, the lights go out and we were suddenly in Springfield. The short one was to freeze with the decay of the fashion world, a rare thing (or actually never is) in this self-critical fashion era. Homer forgets Marge’s birthday, so he steals a fashion magazine from her hand while she’s asleep and finds that she’s wearing a Balenciaga dress: “One day,” she wrote. After Homer wrote a misleading email, some corporate type decided to send them a 19,000 euro dress. Homer agrees to let Merge wear it for only half an hour, then returns it with a note of how much the dress was worn around the annoying old Springfield: “I’ll always remember the special feeling of 30 minutes.” Gavasalia cried after reading the letter – “This is my saddest thing, and I grew up in the Soviet Union!” – He said, “I want to reach this kind of woman!” So she goes to “fashion-deprived Springfield” and sets the stage for a fashion show with the townspeople যারা who are actually the biggest weirdos in society, such as Balenciaga and Simpsons Made history with advice. When the lights went on again in Paris, the audience greeted Gabasalia permanently.
It’s incredibly sweet, even heartwarming – surprisingly so, for a designer whose work at Balenciaga often seems to confirm the ugliness of contemporary life. (He seems to be in a new and very tender place: He sent Cardi BK a floral ornament about his size, along with a Birkin bag.) But the clip also brightly, and very affectionately, points to a new direction for Balenciaga: a new inclusive, communist approach to fashion broadcast from the highest levels of art.
The Balenciaga industry minted its reputation by scooping weirdos from the world-adjacent community. Whether you’re in New York, LA, or Berlin, you’ve always heard that your great writer or artist friend is doing some freelance projects for the brand, and it quickly became a favorite especially among galleryists and fashion types who felt hesitant about precision in luxurious fashion. Its specialty was the ability to sell incredibly expensive versions of Jeff Kuns-Ian’s completely normal, even deceptive things with a suspiciously sincere smile. But sometimes around 2019 – the Spring 2020 show is staged in an anonymous center of the world power – the mood of its outfit begins to shift to strange gowns and experimental suits. It became more formal, more glamorous, more bizarre. The Couture show in July was the pinnacle of this new narrative, and the Saturday evening collection (apparently Summer 2022) was jammed with soot and large-scale tailoring, which now seems to be the central practice of the house. Its suits get more weird and off, jackets get bigger and more wrong. At the same time, the brand has suddenly started dressing up celebrities – from Huppert and Kardashian to Michael Coyle and Justin Bieber. I can’t imagine a red carpet range of any brand other than Giorgio Armani’s hand in the industry in the decade of 1 another0. But the reason for this was that Armani was a standard for the word greed, the perfect uniform for Hollywood’s insecure arrogance. Balenciaga, instead, celebrates the weirdness of its wearers, draping Huppert into a velor tube instead of a feather buoy, or dipping leaves into giant Gothic Crocs.