While this season’s runway majority found refuge in the archives of fashion history, Balenciaga is stuck on the now. For Spring/Summer 2020, Demna Gvasalia explored the subject of “power-dressing and fashion uniform” through his unique lens of satire, which this season, addressed the current state of (sartorial) affairs in a spiralling political arena clad in an EU shade of blue. “Reality? I don’t think it gets more real than this” said the fashion provocateur.
The show opened with a series of corporate-style suits — slightly ill-fitting and with the gentle frump of overtime wear, arriving in variations of black and navy, and marked with Balenciaga’s latest logo riff on a Mastercard design. They were interspersed with what Gvasalia called “Campaign Dresses” ranging from the staunch, straight-edged cuts akin to that of Angela Merkle or Hilary Clinton, to the flamboyant showpieces reminiscent of the Trump ladies’ printed day frocks. They were rendered “more boxy, and cocoon-y, which is quite Balenciaga. So many body-types can wear it. Democratic and easy-to-wear volumes.”
What followed was a cast of characters from different walks of life — lawyers, engineers, gallerists, stylists — dressed in blown-up versions of their professional uniforms. Their symbols of power dressing ran the gamut of extreme ‘80s padded shoulders to oversized anoraks and crinkled worker shirts. The play on silhouette and craftsmanship transitioned to a sober section of eveningwear before it exploded with a grand finale: ballgowns with huge, bell-shaped crinolines that bobbed and bounced with such satisfaction. Their silhouettes were inspired by Cristobal Balenciaga’s early designs based on Spanish paintings. “But we wanted to make sure they’re wearable,” said Gvalsalia. “If you take out the crinoline, you have a sort of Goth dress to wear.”