Demna Gvasalia took us on a whistlestop tour of the world to debut his Pre-Fall 2021 collection for Balenciaga. Landing in fashion capitals Paris, Milan, London, and New York, models also “showed up” in further-flung destinations including Egypt, India, and on top of the Great Wall of China – all head to toe in Balenciaga classics.
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“We Photoshopped everything”, Demna Gvasalia said over the phone, explaining that he wanted to express nostalgia for travel after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions – and hope that the skies will open up soon.
He also wished to transmit good vibrations with a “feel good” clip rather than yet another fashion video, so he mashed together images “scientifically proven” to lift moods – people hugging or dancing, adorable baby animals, dramatic skies – all set to stirring music. “I thought it was a good moment to explore another way of brand expression, which is not product-related”, he mused.
On the line-up for the new season were many familiar Balenciaga-universe destinations: the supersized hoodies, sweatshirts, tailoring, XXL outerwear, 90s trackies, and big, bolshy, bootleg logo-play; tweaked takes on signature floral-print dresses; recycled leather and denim things; magnified utility-worker jackets. In this instance, too-big hoodies and tees are emblazoned with a riff that turns GAP’s signature emblem into ‘“GAY Pride”. The latter is a rare display of political activism from Gvasalia, a gay man who fought social and institutional homophobia as a queer youth in Georgia.
“I’m gay. I grew up in a society where I couldn’t have worn that, and there are places in the world you cannot today”, he told Vogue. “It’s important to push through against homophobia. I’m not someone who goes out in the street and shouts. But this is the political fashion activism I can do”.
Notably, the Pre-Fall 2021 collection also cranks up Gvasalia’s efforts to make Balenciaga a more eco-conscious fashion house – 90.6 percent of the fabrics used within the offering are either recycled or sourced from sustainable means.
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