Demna Gvasalia and super-stylist Lotta Volkova have risen to become fashion royalty in recent year. Transforming Vetements, a much-buzzed about Parisian-based label comprised of a collective of designers hailing for luxury conglomerates into a global brand with hundreds of million in revenue annually. Not only has the business prospered under the guidance of Demna’s brother Guram Gvasalia, the CEO. In a few years Demna Gvasalia has been appointed in the prestigious position as artistic director at couture house Balenciaga.
Balenciaga is a house that was formerly defined by the founder, a glamorous couture endeavour that morphed into something connected with the street and synonymous with sophisticated, futuristic sportswear developed by the creative director at the time: Nicolas Ghesquière. Ghesquière’s tenure concluded and Alexander Wang ushered in a confused, occasionally successful era of romantic sportswear that didn’t strike a chord with many; needless to say his directorship lasted three years before the CEOs ushered in Gvaslia. Gvasalia was a gamble but an interesting spanner in the works for the fashion industry. There have been some controversies with the appointment: firstly, there was the issue of the racist casting in the first show—this season there was another casting nightmare with maltreatment of models; there was the bleakness and lack of romanticism too, a Vetements-isation of the wrong house.
There has been wide shouldered, off-the-shoulders, now he presents us with a new way of pinning your outerwear to one shoulder, creating an asymmetric flair. There were more geometric coats and windbreakers that have been present in the past few seasons. (One noticed the consistency of the Balenciaga menswear aesthetic has bled into the womenswear.) There were nods to Ghesquière-era futurist sportswear, which in itself was a romantic turning back of the clock to Balenciaga’s golden age in modern times.
Romance is something Gvasalia challenged himself with developing in his latest collection for the house. The Georgian-born designer issued Balenciaga couture dresses to commemorate the house’s 100th anniversary. The lineup consisted primarily of floor-sweeping gowns that had the Gvaslia edge but nonetheless had the desirability and romantic nature of couture. Worn by Alek Wek, there was a sublime sweet-heart-neckline evening gown with a rise-and-fall hemline, punctuated by an oversized bow—it had all the components of a couture look, an extravagant ball gown but it also resonated with the designer’s aesthetic: oversized, unexpected. To accompany it? Neon yellow boots.
The trends have, in recent seasons, been dictated by the styling of Lotta Volkova, the acerbic nature of their pithy and sometimes pathetic political statements, the enlarged proportions of the silhouettes. Fashion has been dominated by the collective and it looks like it will continue to do so. For the first time, I can say that I am enamoured by the shedding of cynicism and favouring of romance—it finally proves Gvaslia to be a dynamic designer, if you ask me.