On March 5, Balenciaga presented its Fall/Winter 2023 collection at Paris Fashion Week.
The venue was the Carrousel du Louvre on the lower level of the Louvre Museum, and the runway was simple and unadorned. There were no celebrities in the front row. This venue was previously used by other luxury brands such as Chanel and Dior before their business became well-established as today.
This mode of restraint is due to the scandal the brand caused a few months ago. Just last November, Balenciaga came under fire for its holiday advertising campaign, which was criticized for having a teddy bear with two young girls wearing bondage gear, as if it were reminiscent of child pornography. Another campaign ad launched around the same time also caused further controversy about the prop used for the photo shoot, a document purportedly from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on child sexual abuse images was shown.
The brand and creative director Demna issued official apologetic statements on their Instagram account, but it was not easy to recover from the damage which the brand received, and Balenciaga had been in self-restraint mode for a while.
Balenciaga’s Fall-Winter 2023 collection in Paris was the first runway show after those two scandals. People were therefore interested in what kind of show Balenciaga would put on.
Demna had carefully crafted this show to return to her roots with the question, “What is fashion?“ Demna also mentioned that the previous Balenciaga mud show was a climax of his set collections, but he also realized people didn’t see the clothes.
The collection was divided into three segments: tailoring, voluminous biker puffers, and evening dresses.
Last December, Demna began making clothes from pants cut at home when the brand was under fire. Therefore the coats and blazer jackets that appeared in the first part of the show were all reworked by the couture team from Balenciaga’s stock of pants.
The tailoring of the suits which was once dismantled and remade was sharp, simple, and lean. Although there was no Balenciaga logo on the garments and none of the designs were like the outlandish designs we had previously recognized created by Demna, however, it showed respect for the savoir-faire created by Maison’s founder Cristóbal Balenciaga instead.
A distinctive feature throughout the collection was the wide-shoulder look. In the men’s collection, simple, understated designs were lined up with firm, wide-shouldered looks. Some of the men’s looks featured gently rounded shoulders that were raised enough to cover the entire neck. This rise was also applied to the torso part of the body, making the upper half of the body thicker from the side, as if in 3D.
In the women’s collection, light silk dresses cut in straight lines and animal-printed leather coats featured the same wide shoulders as the men’s collection.
The women’s evening gowns shown in the finale of the show were stunning. Long dresses filled with Swarovski continued to radiate their presence and sparkled even from a distance. In addition, the broad, rounded, and raised shoulders and the ribbon tied around the waist created a perfect balance and contrast, expressing feminine curves and beauty.
From the time Balenciaga went up in flames to this collection, Demna must have gone through a variety of difficult times and thought deeply about his position as a creative director. Although the show lacked the flamboyant staging and artistic twists of previous collections, it was a show that showed his strong will to restart the brand.