Poetry and Transformation in a Cartoon and New Clothes Stomp a Red Carpet
By Long Nguyen
On Saturday early afternoon, the Balenciaga brand Instagram page is wiped clean with an all-white background with a note at the bottom saying ‘No Post Yet’ just mere hours before the premiere of the red carpet Spring 2022 season.
And now that the slate has been wiped clean, what’s next?
In a live show at the Théatre de Châtelet that mimics a red carpet award show with celebrity arrivals, Demna Gvasalia sent his ‘celebrities’ in clothes that are well all of his known signatures clothes. But, upstaging these ‘faux-real’ arrival in real summer 2022 clothes is the actual premiere of the newest episode of The Simpson, featuring Bart and Marge being invited to Paris to model for the Balenciaga show. The models in the show – Cardi B, Offset, Elliot Page, Isabelle Hupert, and other friends- took their seats inside the theater after their red carpet escapade outside.
Demna Gvasalia, the Balenciaga creative director, is actively changing the narrative for the house and is bringing the new language of the aesthetic and the new language of the clothes into 2021. No longer so concerned about the rapid expansion of markets, here, the audacity and the nerves to reveal the tender moments of the transformative power of fashion and beauty are truly commendable.
Marge Simpson became a ‘beauty’ in her green pagoda dress, parading around Springfield as if she owned the town. In a way, she did own it. And, if ever there is a thing, call cross-over!
It also takes guts and unrestrained creativity to bring forth these acts as Gvasalia did here.
The Simpsons movie narrated how Bart wanted to make Marge’s birthday a real special one by ordering her a Balenciaga green pagoda shoulder dress that he has mistaken the actual price. This Simpson movie harnessed all of the fashion stereotypes and blew it up in an authentic comical manner without losing touch with what’s real and a cartoon.
The cartoon depicted real situations like in the runway show; as soon as Anna Wintour approved of an outfit, everyone clapped. These behaviors the conformity fashion brands demand and go into the heart of fashion journalism today, where divergent opinions in critical reviews of major brands’ collections would sometimes get the journalist banned from seeing future collections.
In the end, as sideline observers, the Simpsons got their birthday wish sailing on the Seine sipping champagne. It’s a happy fashion ending affirming the power of clothes, and yes, having the cake and eating it too. Perhaps the most comical parts are those played by a cartoon version of Demna Gvasalia himself.
As a response to how to present fashion in the post-pandemic era, this dual model of a faux red carpet showing arriving guests in the actual summer 2022 collection and the movie premiere set a new standard for visual and physical presentation one format.
Inside the theater, guests sat and watched both the arrivals with a designated look number posted on the screen, then the film and not seeing the clothes live in a regular fashion show setting.
The other revelation is the incredible 19,000 Euro price tag! Don’t ever think cartoons aren’t real. Despite the price, the transgression, the mischief, the typical vapidity in fashion, there is the redemption in a Marge transformed by the allure of a dress, a giant gold gown with a back bow.
And like a comic strip, there sure were revealing moments of actual truth. The Balenciaga runway depicted in the cartoon was also populated by characters from all walks of life, instead of just supermodels as in other shows here this week. This has implications on how the designer and the brand see their actual consumers as real people and not all emulated to be top models.
And what did the red carpet guests wear for their special day arrival?
Overall, this summer 2022 clothes are the penultimate summary of Gvasalia’s signature work in the past several seasons, whether in real or virtual formats. Still, the shapes and the clothes are more refined, the shapes more focused and more precise even in the slouchiest of tailored jackets and even an extravagantly crafted ball gown in white furry fabrics.
Of course, there were plenty of black supersize oversize blazers, and coats reminisced of the haute couture silhouettes in July. There is a bit of a festive mood in these clothes, not just the usual rigid and somber cuts in black gabardine wool. Here is a black hood, a high waist silver sparkling puffy skirt, and a metallic silver silk pleat dress with high cape short sleeves.
Gvasalia has transformed the Balenciaga heritage into his modern-day silhouettes based on the architectural shaping of fashion with iconic garments like the sack dress, the balloon dress, the cocoon coat, or the kimono sleeve coat examples. But, the designer doesn’t intend to bring the actual garments or any specific garment shapes from the past, but just the idea of sculpting the clothes.
The designer intentionally inherited this specific design acumen from this heritage and the gestures but not refashioning the old clothes. Thus, he has been free to push the clothes’ shapes today to create new sculptures instead of reviving the past.
Heritage is in the semblance and a mood, but the new clothes are destined for the audiences and consumers.
One would think what does a giant oversized blazer has to do with Balenciaga’s heritage. Strangely, it has everything to do with the Balenciaga heritage.
That fashion legacy is about recalibrating the proportions of clothes and altering the perceptions of fashion: different garments but the same thinking. And the issue still revolves around the body. Think of the black oversized broad shoulder blazer as the new version of the old cocoon coat designed for today’s audiences. Posing questions about the construction of the clothes is a Balenciaga legacy.
Showing The Simpsons short fashion focus film is nothing short of utter confidence in the brand and the creativity. Oh, and the complete wipe of the brand’s Instagram signals another clean slate beginning from the top.
This Balenciaga red carpet event late on a Saturday night, a rainy one, in Paris provided or suggested the possible answer to how fashion can change in the post-pandemic year is now right in front of us – the resolve to deploy creativity at the heart of moving forward.