Balenciaga S/S 2020 Paris Fashion Week Women’s

Balenciaga S/S 2020 Paris Fashion Week Women’s

Scene setting: If British press were hoping to avoid the mess of Brexit they’d left back home, Demna Gvasalia made sure journalists had no such luck. The confrontational creative director – who last season left the acrid smell of asphalt in editor’s nostrils – erected an all-blue in-the-round show set at Luc Besson’s Cité du Cinema building in the suburbs of St Denis – which resembled the European Parliament. Models circled the tiered bench seating, which lined the circular space, illuminated by a huge ceiling of strip lighting, while freezing air and a sterile aroma was blasted into the imagined political arena.

Mood board: Gvasalia’s audience of delegates were here to cast their eye on his interpretation of ‘new fashion uniforms.’ The show’s opening looks were a parade of homogeneous office outfits, their all black silhouettes, like polo shirts and duster coats, blown up to oversized proportions, with diverse models, from Neil Brady, an architect, and Francesca Pia sporting ‘Vip Balenciaga’ lanyards resembling credit cards. Puffer jackets also nodded to SNCF uniforms.

Gvasalia’s power lies in his ability to take the Parisian maison’s codes – ones which lie in revolutionary silhouettes – and reinterpret them not as an homage, but as a modern take on volume, proportion and power dressing. Panniers have been a surprise trend on the S/S 2020 catwalks, and Gvasalia’s most breathtaking pieces appeared at the finale of the show, with nursing students and graphic designers sporting huge ball gowns with bobbing crinoline skirts, in glittering Lurex or bonded velvet. Like the whalebones in the show’s opening jackets, the crinolines could be removed, for a less voluptuous look.

Finishing touches: Gvasalia likes to play with archetypes of today. Balenciaga’s unstoppable Triple S sneaker is a sartorial mash up of shoes laid on top of each other, and plays with the consumerist obsession with the latest hotly-dropped trainer. For S/S 2020, he brought an eerie air to proceedings, playing on society’s obsession with cosmetic surgery. Models walked with lips that had been puffed up to botched proportions, with odd razor sharp cheekbones, that looked extra terrestrial, eerie and oddly accentuated.

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