Words by Jamay Osborn
Balenciaga forces you to look outside of what you know. Forces you to look at the reality of things that we sometimes push to the side because they make us feel uncomfortable in some way, shape or form. This fashion show shows that fashion is powerful, fashion can make waves in all types of forms.
Demna showed one of the most important runway shows of all time. This is a true fashion history moment. Past trauma for Demna has been brought up, because of what has been happening between Russia and Ukraine, he’s felt and still is feeling, the same pain that the people of Ukraine are feeling right at this moment.
Demna’s connection with Ukraine’s plight is all the more wrenching for the fact that one of his displaced family’s first refuges was in Odessa. The beautiful city in the south of the country which is currently under threat of being occupied by Russian forces. Demna said “I went to school in Ukraine. It was always my nightmare of embarrassment to have to stand up and speak poetry in front of people—but now I realized I wanted to do it.”
Demna said “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 collection was truly strong and powerful in its statement and also in the set design and the clothing. The set was a 360 view of an intense snow storm in what seemed to be a snow globe, with models pushing/struggling to walk around in the snow globe, when guest where seated, blue and yellow Ukrainian-flag T-shirts had been laid on every chair. The start of the show had Demnas voice filling the auditorium with a reading of “Believe in Ukraine” by Oleksandr Oles, one of the Nations great cultural poet-heroes. There was no translation for the Ukrainian poem, it would only be understood by the people who needed to understand it.
The show features some amazing pieces long skin tight dresses with meter long trains blowing voluminously though the wind. The pieces took you out of current events but also had you thinking about current events. We had new iterations of the le cagoule line with a tote style bag with an amalgamation of the knife boot style.
Models walked in majority black silhouettes caring trash bags, the classic oversized padded outerwear and hoodies dawned the runway, leather jackets that turn out to be made from Balenciaga’s new mycelium-derived leather-mimicking alternative.
The closing two looks, one a yellow oversized track-suit, and the other a blue skin tight dress with an extra-long train flowing, resembling a flag blowing in the wind. The two looks unmistakably resembled the Independent Nation of Ukraine.
The collection has a sort of social elegance, proving that fashion can be more than just fashion; it can be political and have a myriad of emotions.