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Between tragedy and hope, fashion offers its necessary reflection

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Between tragedy and hope, fashion offers its necessary reflection

Divination and prophecy, in fashion, are not just narrative devices or linguistic hyperbole, but, in some cases, tangible facts. It is difficult to put into words, because the act and the creative process follow unsystematic logics and connections, but there are authors whose antennas pick up minimal electric shocks in the ether du temps, and elaborate before things happen.

Demna is one of them, and Balenciaga it is his laboratory of predictions that come true. The maison’s last physical show, in March 2020, was a dark and apocalyptic phantasmagoria of unleashed elements and submerged humanity. The lockdown would begin a week later. Now Balenciaga returns to parade with a hyperbolic as well as moving show: a vision of women and men who, inside a glass cylinder, march with difficulty facing a blinding snow storm, their clothes tattered or held together with tape, a sack in their hands , the stiletto heels that make the steps even more uncertain.

Thinking of a horde of refugees is more than possible, indeed automatic, including the legitimate doubt whether all this is permissible within the perimeter of a luxury brand, if it is not a fetishization of suffering for the use of the rich. In the case of Demna, who arrived in Germany with his family as a Georgian refugee thirty years ago, the mixture of biography and urgent news makes this dramaturgical choice alive, throbbing like an uncovered nerve, plausible. On the chairs, guests find a Ukrainian flag in the form of a T-shirt; Demna’s voice recites lines in Ukrainian at the opening of the show; and the last two looks are a turquoise dress and a yellow jumpsuit. The conjunction is magical, and the message of peace and beauty arrives ineffable. Yet nothing started out as a political project. «We have been working on this show for six months – says Demna – I wanted something extremely bright, almost virtual reality made physical. And I wanted to reflect on the artificiality of viewing through a screen and snow: a natural phenomenon that climate change, in fifty years, could make a memory, forcing it to be replaced with a synthetic one. The events of the last few days have given this fantasy another meaning ».

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The emotion is such that fashion takes a back seat, but that too is actually of maximum value: a floating iteration of the Balenciaga code, touched by a heavy lightness and by the idea that everything can be stored in a small space and packaged. . Because Demna, before being a narrator, is a true designer, who translates needs and visions into clothes.

Pierpaolo Piccioli is also a designer, who for Valentino this season radicalizes the dictation and opts for a crude chromatic reductionism which is indeed exclusively aesthetic, but which the events of the last few days make powerfully political. The collection is a succession of monochromatic silhouettes: pink PP (a synthetic and bright magenta, which will immediately have its own dedicated pantone) and black, spread over everything, from clothes to accessories. The whole set is also pink PP. Frivolity and rigor, energy and calm interpenetrate, while fashion reiterates Piccioli’s graceful and feminine sign, transfiguring it into a flawless statement. The overdose, however, is lurking, and the show leaves you sated like one macaron too many.

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