What could a camera drone buzzing high above the caged rooftop of a Jesuit school in Paris capture of Demna Gvasalia’s debut men’s collection for Balenciaga — and the brand’s first men’s runway outing in its 99-year history?
Plenty. For even high in the sky one could have perceived something radically new finally stirring up a relatively ho-hum men’s season in Europe.
Not since Hedi Slimane’s emaciated rockers stormed down the runway some 15 years ago has anyone at a major house paraded a silhouette this severe — coats and suits with shoulders as wide as a fridge, immediately followed by the opposite: suffocating, shrunken styles on models with ironing-board physiques, most of them cast on Instagram.
Time will tell if the David Byrne look makes any sense to young generations weaned on droopy jeans and sloppy hoodies — and even Wall Street types now allowed to dress casually. To be sure, Gvasalia’s commitment to tailoring — and extreme versions of it — puts the heritage brand back in a couture context, and won’t blur with Gvasalia’s streetwear-driven Vetements project.
While challenging, his Balenciaga clothes had such conviction behind them — and a peerless execution — that they commanded attention, and are bound to be influential. Those boxy coats had a handsome swing at the back, and the sweep of the shoulders broadcast authority and cool.