Balenciaga: Couture AW23

By now, it’s written into the social media history books: Eliza Douglas closed the Balenciaga show in a Jeanne d’Arc ballgown of armour made from 3D-printed resin and galvanised metal. “I suffered all my life because of the way I dress and what I try to show through my work,” Demna said, referring to the French martyr, “and it just had this symbolic relevance to dressmaking and this metier being my armour: the place where I reconnect with myself and where I’m happy.” Scored by the acapella voice of Maria Callas, his third annual haute couture show opened with Danielle Slavik – who modelled for Cristóbal Balenciaga between 1964-68 – in a replica of her favourite dress from the Winter 1966 collection. It was followed by funnel-neck dress constructions created by rotating the hemlines of the founder’s dresses, and mind-blowing gowns structured like jewellery-making. Demna proposed a series trompe l’oeil creations made of oil paintings on canvas, posing as fur, leather or denim, as well as coats and scarves moulded to look like they’d been windswept. Isabelle Huppert joined a cast including Amber Valletta, Guinevere van Seenus, Demna’s husband Loïk Gomex, and his close friend Yuri. “Couture, to me, is the only way to shed light on the essence of this job: making real clothes, authentic creativity, the importance of the person who wears it, and not the endless marketing and selling, and all this blah-blah that has cannibalised the whole industry. My job is to show that,” he said after the show. “It’s like anti-virus. Couture, to me, is like Moderna. It cannot save it but it can at least highlight the importance of keeping its immunity. For me, without that, there is no hope.”

Photography courtesy of Balenciaga.

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