There Was No Escaping This Balenciaga Present.
Lead PictureCourtesy of Balenciaga
There’s a Gallic phrase, nostalgie de la boue – which accurately interprets as ‘nostalgia for mud’ – describing an attraction to and fascination with low tradition, expertise, and degradation. I ponder if Demna thought of that when pulling collectively his Balenciaga present, which occurred round an enormous tranche of mud, artificially fragranced by the scent artist Sissel Tolaas to reek of earth. That odor clung to you, to your garments, for days after. There was no escaping this Balenciaga present.
Which is a becoming metaphor for the affect of Demna. Nostalgie de la boue hyperlinks along with his personal tastes and philosophies, combining parts drawn from the streets with notions of couture, which have had a profound impression on vogue over the previous decade – his shapes, his ornamental motifs, his obsessions, are all a part of the widespread vogue language now.
The concept, on paper, doesn’t sound so new, however when vogue fishes out of the gutter it is normally a rarefied bunch of references it evokes, sanitised and infrequently historicised – the punks of the Nineteen Seventies, grunge of the Nineteen Nineties, a suitable bunch of trendy ‘streets’ that we’re all acquainted with, and due to this fact don’t discover so stunning. Demna’s streets are brutal, harsh, and totally contemporaneous – there’s a sharpness, a nastiness to the low tradition he combines with Balenciaga’s snobbish reputation. And in his present notes, he acknowledged that the present’s set was “a metaphor for digging for fact and being all the way down to earth.” There’s a way of this each to Demna, and his work. Final season, the reality he selected to point out was brutal and onerous to swallow – many questioned if it ought to even be proven in a vogue context, which is the signal of nice vogue, I think. And its impression continues to resonate.
This time, Demna’s commentary was about individualism. That’s why his present didn’t include identikit recreations of subcultural figures, however was seemingly peopled with actuality. And actual folks actually put on ripped denims, though varied media shops reply hysterically when that’s prolonged and exaggerated, as Balenciaga did earlier this 12 months with its deliberately hyper-destroyed sneakers. Torn, stained and worn by hand, they took hours of labor – the identical sort of time-intensive labour that might usually go into, say, sequinning a night costume or tailoring a tuxedo. “Placing luxurious vogue into the field of polished, unique, and visually costly is restricted and fairly old skool,” Demna wrote. What he appeared to be asking, by way of this present, is: why is yet another worthy, extra fascinating, than the opposite? Can’t they each exist? Isn’t there a validity to each?
In fact, asking these questions throughout the framework of a couture home is usually perceived as heretical. So is the thought of an costly beaded robe trailing within the muck, which Demna additionally proposed – a type of destruction allied along with his shredded sneakers, and beaten-up denims, and fucked-up jackets. They symbolize the damage of the world, certain, but additionally what the world wears. And the way in regards to the fetish of the designer purse – vogue’s age-old money cow – right here prolonged into a whole costume? On the one hand, it was an illustration of Balenciaga’s excellence in leather-based items, however with an S&M whiplash really feel to the dancing leather-based gewgaws and handles, it additionally appeared a mirrored image of the fetishisation of luxurious right this moment.
Nostalgie de la boue is a pithy phrase for a present that occurred within the mud. However, actually, it doesn’t summarise what Demna is attempting to do. He doesn’t understand a hierarchy, a strata of affect – he isn’t consciously in search of out what some might name ‘low’ – somewhat he’s focused on individuality. You see it throughout each ready-to-wear and couture – in each, he reveals denims and robes, items destroyed and pristine, concepts evocative of vogue’s historical past or the hyper-modern. There isn’t a proper or unsuitable – and, definitely, it isn’t about prescriptive methods of dressing, about ‘developments’ and even, maybe, about vogue. “How nice it’s to be totally different from each other,” Demna stated. Amen to that.