In a cold and dark airplane hangar at Le Bourget airport, about 7 km from the capital, Demna Gvasalia, artistic director of Balenciaga, plunged his guests into a huge snowstorm.
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Understanding the snowstorm can be done in two readings: the first was the questioning of global warming – hence the title of the collection “360 degrees” – projected into a not-so-distant time when snow will no longer exist, and will become a wonder. “Maybe in 50 years, people will have to go to these places to have an artificial experience of a certain weather condition that we take for granted”, he told British Vogue.
The second reading referred to a cataclysmic landscape of a world facing the threat of a nuclear winter. This catastrophic projection joined current events and immediately brought to mind the ongoing war in Ukraine and Demna’s own personal experience as a refugee from his native Georgia.
“The war in Ukraine has triggered the pain of a past trauma I have carried in me since 1993, when the same thing happened in my home country and I became a forever refugee. Forever, because that’s something that stays in you. The fear, the desperation, the realization that no one wants you. But I also realized what really matters in life, the most important things, like life itself and human love and compassion.
This is why working on this show this week was so incredibly hard for me. Because in a time like this, fashion loses its relevance and its actual right to exist. Fashion week feels like some kind of an absurdity. I thought for a moment about cancelling the show that I and my team worked hard on and were all looking forward to. But then I realized that cancelling this show would mean giving in, surrendering to the evil that has already hurt me so much for almost 30 years. I decided that I can no longer sacrifice parts of me to that senseless, heartless war of ego.
This show needs to explanation. It is a dedication to fearlessness, to resistance, and to the victory of love and peace”, he said in the show notes.
A solidarity that was expressed not only in words, but also in deeds, since he placed on each seat of the guests an oversized t-shirt in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
And what about the collection? The Fall/Winter 2022 palette was mostly understated, opening mostly with black, gray and brown before introducing a touch of white, a few pops of bright color and other eye-catching prints. Silhouettes were rather loose, a Demna signature, while others were slightly more fitted. The line included a reinvented variety of leather jackets, bombers, denim and track jackets, most of which can be slipped on over the head. Some models wearing just a t-shirt and underwear, wrapped in a large towel, unmistakably conjure up images of refugees on the forced migration route, before the show ended with two poignant looks, one in a yellow tracksuit, the other in a blue dress with a long, long flag-like train: the two unmistakable colors of the democratic and independent nation of Ukraine.
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