DEMNA’S FALL 2022 COLLECTION FOR BALENCIAGA IS AN ODE TO FEARLESSNESS AND RESISTANCE
The designer, who fled his native Georgia to escape a civil war, made a poignant statement during Paris Fashion Week.Demna has put his distinctive stamp on Balenciaga since taking over the house in 2015. But he has arguably never put as much of himself into his presentations for the brand at Paris Fashion Week as he has this season.
At Balenciaga’s Fall 2022 fashion show on Sunday, guests were greeted by an oversized two-tone T-shirt with the colours of the Ukrainian flag and a letter from the eponymous designer, the full text of which is below.
„The war in Ukraine has triggered the pain of a past trauma that I have carried inside me since 1993, when the same thing happened in my home country and I became a perpetual refugee. Forever, because that is something that stays in you. The fear, the despair, the realisation that nobody wants you, but I also realised what really matters in life, the most important things, like life itself and human love and compassion.
That’s why working on this show this week has been so incredibly hard for me. Because fashion loses its relevance and its very raison d’être in a time like this. Fashion Week feels like some kind of absurdity. I briefly thought about cancelling the show that me and my team had worked hard on and that I was all looking forward to. But then I realised that cancelling this show would mean giving in and surrendering to the evil that has hurt me so much for almost 30 years. I decided that I could no longer sacrifice parts of myself to this senseless, heartless war of ego.
This show needs to be explained. It’s a dedication to fearlessness, resistance and the victory of love and peace.“
Demna was born in Georgia but fled with his family in the early 1990s during the civil war; they spent some time in Ukraine before eventually landing in Germany. He has already reflected the conflict in his home country and its aftermath in his work – namely Vetements‘ Spring 2019 collection. Given the developments in Ukraine over the past few weeks, the way Balenciaga’s Autumn 2022 collection explores this idea of resilience feels all the more sobering.
The Kering-owned brand staged its latest debut in a self-contained winter wonderland – a kind of snow globe catwalk where models braved the elements in their stretch dresses and catsuits, turtlenecks and trousers, sleeves with turn-ups and sleek, oversized jackets. Originally, the set was meant to be a commentary on climate change, he told British Vogue backstage :
Balenciaga was one of the first major luxury brands to respond to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine by dedicating its social media profiles to sharing resources and partnering with the World Food Programme to provide food aid to those displaced by the Russian invasion. The brand’s Autumn 2022 show opened with Demna reading a poem by Ukrainian writer Oleksandr Oles in Ukrainian.
„It’s just innocent people dying in war. I lived through it and actually blocked it out for 30 years until I started reading the news last week,“ he told British Vogue . „It brought back all that pain, as anyone who has been through it would. The message is always love. And fashion has to come from that, at least in terms of a position on it.“
The Autumn 2022 palette is largely restrained, starting mainly with black, grey and brown, before introducing hints of white, some bold floral prints (another Demna’s Balenciaga trademark) and other eye-catching prints (see: the packing tape catsuit showcased by Kim, with brand logo Kardashian in the front row). The most poignant use of colour, however, came in the closing looks: a yellow tracksuit by Balenciaga, followed by a blue long-sleeved dress with train.