It seems that many fashion houses are seeking to reform the narrative and revival for haute couture, but Balenciaga is perhaps the one making the most talked-about wave of all. Launching its AW21 Couture collection at a Paris show on Wednesday, Balenciaga’s 50th Couture collection has undoubtedly created a buzz across the globe.
Bringing haute couture back
Demna’s fan or not, it seems that Balenciaga’s latest move has indeed moved the fashion and media industries after the Paris show last night. It is not surprising that the show got people talking about it all over the world, especially after the past six years of ultra-expensive Ikea ‘Frakta’ totes, Crocs and oversized bags reminiscent of Thailand’s nylon rainbow bags under Demna Gvasalia’s direction.
This year, however, the Georgian designer took a drastic turn and instead decided to revive the maison’s haute couture which was last active 53 years ago—in 1968. The collection pays homage to Balenciaga’s couture history through architectural silhouettes and meticulous techniques, along with hand-embroidered C.B. initials on silk ties, poplin shirts and gloves—details which are undoubtedly personal to Cristóbal Balenciaga’s style.
“Couture is the highest level of garment construction, that is not only relevant in today’s mass-productive industry, but even absolutely necessary for the survival and further evolution of modern fashion design.” – Demna Gvasalia
Balenciaga’s 50th Couture collection
Despite Gvasalia’s diversion from anything traditional in the past years, the show was, in many ways, classic to how haute couture shows ought to be. From the ball gown with opera gloves to the venue itself (the apartment that Cristóbal Balenciaga used for a show himself), everything was based on and built upon the maison’s history. Of course, there were elements of the present—a nod to the zeitgeist of the era—through aspects like the metallic goggles and large, gleaming domes that cover the models’ faces.
“Couture is above trends, fashion, and industrial dressmaking. It is a timeless and pure expression of craft and the architecture of silhouette that gives a wearer the strongest notion of elegance and sophistication.” – Demna Gvasalia
While the AW21 Couture show kept to couture traditions in many ways, the model line-up carried an element of surprise, with Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of US vice-president Kamala Harris, donning a padded silk opera jacket paired with a sharp tuxedo. Another highlight, however, stays with the couture tradition of the bride closing the show in a veiled look—a take on one of reminiscent of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s last designs.
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