Spotlight On: Balenciaga AW21
Universally provoking, Balenciaga are a brand that has disrupted fashions boundaries from its beginnings and the release of the AW/21 collection is no different. The influence of distorted communications and long-distance connections throughout the pandemic was a poignant theme in this collection as Creative Director, Demna Gvasalia highlighted the significance of escapism, freedom and hope when everyone was locked in over the past year.
The release of this collection saw Gvasalia transition to a game designer transforming Balenciaga from fashion brand to fully-fledged fan universe as he launched Afterword: The Age of Tomorrow – a free game that is accessible to all on every device, creating a multi-platform media asset in which he agilely flipped between digital and physical platforms to sell tangible clothes to luxury lovers. The gamification of this collection came as Gvasalia recognised an opportunity to connect with customers, “Today’s customer does gaming. It’s an important luxury customer base. They project so much onto their character. It’s a parallel world.”
Recognising the emotional significance of creating a sense of escapism and creating a platform that facilitates connections, Balenciaga have gamified the future of fashion and this is recognised across the aesthetics within the collection alongside unmistakable Balenciaga silhouettes and trademark garments that represent the very new age of fashion. The gamification is highlighted as the Gvasalia distorts logos like a cross-over between superheroes in a marvel movie. This is cleverly executed in order to create a collection that goes beyond the Balenciaga look or ‘lifestyle’ and instead feels like a fictional world which keeps evolving within its own intertextuality.
The theme of sustainability runs alongside the collection. Notice intentional details of destroyed edges and rugged hems as Gvasalia tuned into the future of clothing aesthetics that are recognised by himself and the climate-emergency-aware generation; “People will keep wearing clothes they love until they fall apart. I do myself. So, things look quite destroyed, worn in, pre-crinkled.” The addition and attention to the renewal of Balenciaga basics, crafted in fabrics certified as sustainable was included with the intention to highlight the importance of longevity.
Accents of bright colours were highlighted to create a sense of positivity that holds significance as we travel into a sense of optimism as a society. Oversized winter essentials were created with the purpose of dancing outside and hold exaggerated proportions for added drama.