French fashion design house, Balenciaga, recently debut their Fall/Winter 2016-2017 collection at Paris fashion week featuring new creative director Demna Gvasalia. You may recognize the name, but if you don’t, you should have heard of the explosive avant-garde label, Vetements, Gvasalia’s original design brand. In a recent interview with Vogue, Gvasalia discusses the modern influence that a post-liberation period for women has on both fashion collections. In his own words his design intention is “to create clothing engineered to reason how women felt and therefore how they looked... The rapport between body and clothes."
Gvasalia takes a fresh new perspective on silhouette by interchanging menswear and womenswear cuts into androgynous and practical ready-to-wear. He’s a pioneer for today's more liberated youth advocating for androgynous styles. However, those who aren’t in favor of the new Balenciaga collection proclaim statements like these as paradoxical since the designer claims to cast and design for a more inclusive fashion culture while sending an all-white cast of models down his runway. In our superficially comprehensive modern fashion world, high-fashion consumers have accepted the inclusion of Kanye West, for example, as a dual rapper-fashion designer casting ordinary and diverse people as models for his shows. The question some really have for the Vetements turned Balenciaga creative director is; how innovative is the collection really if it’s not treading any new ground?
Driven by new social and cultural freedoms that would inevitably leave an enduring mark on art, design, and fashion, designers like Mary Quant and André Courrèges, created with a similar idea as Gvasalia’s in mind, however, this was decades prior. And, not to any surprise, this was a trend that received some similar backlash from fashion critiques as well. The barriers set by Hollywood’s stars, in the early 1960’s, meant exclusivity for a wealthier and much older consumer with more conservative silhouettes. However, in 1965, fashion was given a much more inclusive voice with much more daring fashions sent down the Paris runway. As the scarcity of the decade that preceded World War II’s end came to a close, expenditures by a new much more youthful generation signified the beginning of a new era of fashion icons. Fashion magazines, musicians, T.V. personalities, photographers, artists, sports players, and models were all highly influential on fashion during this time. Today, this could be the equivalent of Kylie Jenner rocking an oversized Vetements sweatshirt on Instagram; which she totally did.
Does this have to mean that fashion's social-cultural innovation is stagnant with the new Balenciaga collection? Perhaps Gvasalia's latest collection is not as inclusive as the youth that is advocating for the industry's indelible change, but his words deem that future Balenciaga collections have hope for the new creative director to lead fashion a step in the right direction. Also, it doesn't hurt that Vetements is surely relatable to millennial's high street fashion obsession and consumption (#trending). Plus, Demna Gvasalia's name is everywhere, and he's someone you definitely want to keep your eye on.