Balenciaga spring 2022 blurred reality with Gucci hacks and hyper-realistic technologies
Five fashion takeaways
The Balenciaga spring 2022 models were all clones.
While it's not apparent right off the bat, as each look walked down the super sterile runway, you'd notice that all the models looked the same. In fact, they all looked like artist and constant Balenciaga model Eliza Douglas. The fashion house's spring 2022 collection was named 'Clones' and Douglas's face was digitally transplanted onto that of actual models, effectively creating a 44-strong army of clones.
Does that mean that the collection was designed to be gender-less? Perhaps. Creative director Demna Gvasalia also made it a point for the button arrangements in the collection — save for the dresses and gowns — to follow that of traditional menswear (left over right).
It was pre-recorded but consisted of a sit-in audience.
The entire show was pre-recorded but was intended to recreate a live show setting. After a year of digital shows and presentations, we're getting a bit fatigued (and bored; very bored) of them. It was nice to see an audience even though they were clearly staged to resemble the typical fashion week crowd. Dressed almost entirely in black, the audience embodied the futuristic mood — every move seemed calculated and robotic to the point where at times, they were synchronised. And of course, totally emotionless.
'This is not a Gucci bag' and other moments from The Hacker Project.
Gucci's Gucci Aria collection that was shown just this April debuted a landmark 'collaboration' between the fashion house and Balenciaga. Gvasalia continued that narrative but tweaked it slightly as part of his exploration of blurred reality. While Gucci's Alessandro Michele incorporated Balenciaga's logos and key silhouettes into his collection, Gvasalia approached the merging of both house codes as a sort of 'hacking'. The Hacker Project — as it's affectionately termed — saw some of Gucci's iconic GG-monogram designs and silhouettes replaced with Balenciaga's double-B logo. The red-and-green webbing stripe remained but adorned with back-facing Bs.
The highlight though would be the tote bag that's splashed with 'This is not a Gucci bag' — true but also not quite. And the collection is set to
Gucci was not the only collaborative effort for spring 2022.
There were Crocs. Yes, a Balenciaga collaboration with the highly divisive footwear is poised for a comeback this spring 2022. This time around, there are two designs to choose from. The first is a heeled mule design that's essentially a common pair of Crocs propped up at the heel with a Ikea table-shaped leg — in other words, I'd only wear one if I were forced to under extreme circumstances (what they are, I can't even fathom). The second iteration however, was a bit more palatable. The Balenciaga Crocs 2.0 wellies didn't immediately come off as conventionally Crocs-like and were available in a series of colours, including a striking green pair that's quite a scene-stealer.
It was much of the same but different.
But at the end of the day, Gvasalia's latest collection for Balenciaga felt familiar. There were old hits rehashed and somewhat remixed but lacked anything new. Sure, the Gucci-hacked pieces would probably be the defining moment of the entire spring 2022 collection but that's just about it. And if we were to compare it with Gucci's own execution of this Kering-owned partnership, there's definitely no contest or question on who did it better.