Nicole Kidman and Katy Perry watch Balenciaga provoke with couture

    Celebrities gathered in Paris to see Demna’s singular vision continue into haute couture.
    Striking all black looks from Balenciaga Couture Season 53. Images: Balenciaga
      Published   in Fashion

    In a break from the bejewelled princess gowns from much of Paris couture week, Balenciaga’s Season 53 Haute Couture collection takes cultural notes from streetwear, goth, skateboard and heavy metal mixed with a “semi-minimalist and semi-new luxury” approach.

    Shown IRL to a select audience of fewer than 150 people, including stars Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Charlie XCX and (a ripped and almost topless) Katy Perry, the show was also livestreamed on WeChat video and Balenciaga's website.

    Drawing from the brand's archives, Demna incorporates four iconic styles of founder Cristobal Balenciaga into his designs, including cocoon silhouettes, 3/4 length sleeves and voluminous hats. Yet, the pieces are about showcasing craftsmanship with original technology and material innovations.

    “Couture is in fact who we are and where we are coming from,” CEO Cedric Carbit told Jing Daily during the brand’s Shanghai show last month. In 2021, the brand made a triumphant return to haute couture after a 53-year hiatus, under the direction of Demna. That highly anticipated debut was a testament to Balenciaga's heritage and the current designer’s modern twist on the brand's aesthetics.

    This collection did not shy away from the avant-garde. Featured were big brimmed hats, draped resin T-shirts, butterfly motifs and carbon fiber bodies, some created in collaboration with artists like Alastair Gibson and Ni Hao. Wrap jackets in leather, denim, and nylon adopt “cocooning gestures,” according to show notes, where an examination of the relationship between fabric, silhouette, and the human form took centre stage.

    Looks from Balenciaga Couture Season 53. Image: Balenciaga
    Looks from Balenciaga Couture Season 53. Image: Balenciaga

    Demna dips into the rich archives of Cristóbal Balenciaga and his minimalist architectural shapes, but the reinterpretation is not merely aesthetic; it’s a sophisticated play on materiality, pushing the limits of what fabric can achieve.

    Case in point is the finale look, made of 47 meters of black nylon wrapped directly on the body by the couture atelier team that takes “approximately 30 minutes to make and 30 seconds to dissolve” and is designed to be “only worn once.” Radical, especially for a bridal piece, and certainly a bold assertion for the future of fashion, where the boundaries of couture are pushed.

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