Balenciaga Turns Back To Craft At Paris Fashion Week

What Happened: On March 5, Balenciaga’s creative director Demna (formerly known as Demna Gvasalia) presented the house’s Winter 23 collection at Paris Fashion Week. This season, Demna, appointed artistic director for the house in October 2015, focused on the art of making clothes and toned down the showmanship.

Unveiled in a minimalistic space enveloped in toile at Carrousel du Louvre, the show aimed to put the fundamentals of design in the limelight. The collection, a reimagining of the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga, who founded the maison in 1919, presents a highly contemporary wardrobe conveying realism imbued with Demna’s idiosyncratic attitude toward haute couture.

Unveiled in a minimalistic space enveloped in toile, the Balenciaga Winter 23 show spotlights the fundamentals of design. Photo: Balenciaga

“Fashion has become a kind of entertainment, but often that part overshadows the essence of it, which lies in shapes and volumes, silhouettes, the way we create relationships between body and fabric, the way we make shoulder lines and armholes, the way clothes have an ability to change us,” says Demna in the seat notes.

This sentiment was expressed through looks and classic items reimagined with asymmetrical cuts and volume. Pants were reconstructed with inverted waists, and zip-up hoodies, biker jackets, tracksuits and puffers were reconstituted in inflatable forms.

The Jing Take: Heritage house Balenciaga is acutely aware of the importance of maintaining its appeal to loyal customers amid global economic volatility. 

The legacy house’s decision to step back from exaggerated campaigns and buzzy concepts aligns with the volatile economic backdrop environments and changing consumer profiles. Another significant change compared to the previous seasons is the absence of logos on clothes and accessories. 

“I think we’re going to enter the stage in my work where it doesn’t need to be justified by the brand on it,” says Demna, who first presented for the house in March 2016.

“I think we’re going to enter the stage in my work where it doesn’t need to be justified by the brand on it,” says Demna. 

Rather, the designer is delivering his new manifesto through silhouettes. In fact, his dedication to pushing the boundaries of making clothes was on full display at Balenciaga 50th Couture Collection in 2021, the house’s first couture collection since 1967, when the maison’s founder left the fashion industry.

Chinese fashion KOLs such as @Ahalolo and @CherryGun welcomed Demna’s new take on fashion, which they said allowed audiences to pay more attention to the details of each look.

Though this collection might seem like a radical departure for Demna, his love for high fashion is consistent. Whether focusing on the house’s legacy or minimizing buzzy marketing tactics, Balenciaga is convincing consumers with the authentic lure of fashion design. 

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.