Balenciaga: Victim of Its Own Success?

I fell in love with Demna Gvasalia in Summer 2017. I had just given birth, and his designs gave me the freedom to explore fashion unconstrained from tight waistlines or close fitting cuts that would be out of reach for a while.

His style was a breath of fresh air. It made me feel as chic as a 1950s woman with all the freedom a 2017 woman could have (which is not enough, but that’s for another post). I haven’t even managed to regret my aspirational purchases, a velvet blue knife sock bootie and a canary yellow thigh high pantyhose sock bootie that made me feel I was on the red carpet. I haven’t figured out how to walk in 120mm heels again since birth, but I know that when I do, I’ll be power walking.

His Fall 2017 collection was delectable. I added several more pieces to my collection, including some pieces that have become holy grail for me. Spring 2018 still felt fresh, and I am still kicking myself for not having moved sooner on his cocoon coat as soon as it hit 40% off (it never went on sale in the official stores but was available for a discount at selfridges.com, and to this day I regret not having been faster).

So why did his Fall 2018 collection feel tired? Aside from one bright silver lining — replacing questionable homage to DHL workers (under sister label Vetements) with supporting the World Food Programme — it is sadly, sadly, sadly, more of the same.

I loved Demna Gvasalia for his ability to innovate. But one of the dangers of creating a signature look based on being avant-garde is that when that avant-garde becomes mainstream, it goes stale. Sock shoes have invaded every other shoe collection, from Jimmy Choo to Miu Miu. Moncler is oversizing its parkas. And Richard Quinn has raised the stakes on cocoon jackets that take one’s breath away.

In August 2017, Gvasalia gave an interview explaining that the Paris fashion party circuit had burned him out, and that he had moved to Zurich, quipping it “the most boring place in Europe.”

“I needed the silence and to go and discover myself…I’m still doing it and I’m going to be doing it for the rest of my life.”

Gvasalia, don’t be a victim of your own success. Perhaps it’s time to re-enter the fray. Let’s his Spring 2019 collection blows us away.

 

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