Times are tough. We get it. So I honestly love that Balenciaga gave us a runway show that really feels like a reflection of our current era: a little thrown together, a little half-assed, a little “doing what we can with what we have.” If I were—hypothetically, of course—living through an apocalypse, and someone told me I had to produce a fashion show, I would call up the girls, have them bring some stuff from their own closet, grab whatever extra material I could find, and host the show in my own house. That is basically what designer Demna Gvasalia did, and I think that’s beautiful.
The brand’s 51st couture collection show was held on Wednesday in Balenciaga’s own salons in Paris—a pragmatic choice that said, “We are saving money and staying safe.” The clothes were…clothes, but maybe not what you’d immediately expect from a top couture designer, especially when your peers like Iris Van Herpen and Schiaparelli are showing collections so extreme and elaborate that they should come with a safety hazard. But again, that’s OK. If the world is ending, why bother with all the fuss, frolic, and added risk of losing an eyeball?
The first few models walked out in various forms of black leather: a full bodysuit, a pants and shirt set, a dress with exaggerated shoulders, a tuxedo, and a dress with a long train. The same fabric; five different looks. The end times call for convertible pieces that allow us to effortlessly go from day to night all while being prepared to pull a Neo at any given moment.
Then came the celebrities—because obviously, your friends will be happy to help out when there’s not enough time to book models for your DIY Doomsday show. Bella Hadid wore a green strapless dress that looked like a gown from the front but was actually a short skirt in the back. (This is an important note: Just because you don’t have enough fabric doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still go for a full dress.) Naomi Campbell wore a huge gown with a fancy neck collar—both of which looked like they could be made out of large trash bags—that was so bulbous she could barely fit through the doorframes. Nicole Kidman was wrapped in a mylar blanket—perfect for going out and also protecting yourself from a sudden natural disaster.
Dua Lipa was swaddled in yellow fabric with some black elbow-length gloves and black tights—a look anyone could easily recreate with yellow sheets, towels or T-shirts.
Then there was Kim Kardashian, whose look was indistinguishable from her myriad previous Balenciaga outfits. Why bother making an entirely new black body-con dress when you can just grab one of the dozens you’ve already made, add a few tweaks here and there, and then she’s in something that’s not new but at least a little different. It’s 2022. We don’t need designers recreating the wheel. We just need them to do something that distracts us a little bit from the never-ending cycle of unprecedented events.
Now, I feel prepared. I feel inspired. I feel confident that I can live through an armageddon sensibly, and in style.