Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman, model Dua Lipa in the Balenciaga Couture show – The Hollywood Reporter

Balenciaga won the couture contest again this season with an electrifying show filled with famous models, including Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman, Dua Lipa and sell sunset starred Christine Quinn.

Wednesday’s show should cement Demna’s reputation as a master of top-down cultural curation — and one of the most exciting thinkers and practitioners in fashion today. The show had a stabbing intensity enhanced by a haunting, face-obscuring symphonic soundtrack RoboCop– face shields, developed in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz racing engineers.

Yet underneath, there was also an emotional lump in the throat tug. Was it the love poem recited in French at the start of the show? The upbeat music, amplified by handbag-shaped boomboxes worn by some models? Or simply the visceral beauty of Demna’s voluptuous confection?

The VIP arrivals were a spectacle in themselves: Kris Jenner sweeping behind alien sunglasses, her granddaughter North West in tow; drag star Alexis Stone channels Jocelyn Wildenstein and dabs her makeup with a sponge before taking a selfie with Róisín Murphy; Offset posing for photos with Alton Mason in his bulging clown shoes, and Balenciaga CEO Cédric Charbit half-jokingly telling Tracee Ellis Ross to kick the hemlines of the big final dresses if they get lodged in the narrow door next to his seat.

The opening looks – bodies wrapped in rubbery-looking neoprene, faces in blackened glass – were terrifying, and also terrifyingly chic, the shoulders beautifully built on the dresses, one with a train that looked so much like a tablecloth of petroleum that you almost expected it to stain the white carpet.

“Selling Sunset” star Christine Quinn in the Balenciaga couture show.
Balenciaga

Long-sleeved sheath dresses have piled up shimmering or shaggy textures, as have jeans shaking with thousands and thousands of dangling jet beads. The workmanship was stunning, with press notes explaining that a leopard-print coat was made from 150 kilometers of hand-tufted yarn.

The show traveled through Demna’s obsessions that he zhuzh stunningly: giving a denim jacket a head-engulfing collar; adding foil to oversized T-shirts so they can be crinkled into windswept shapes, and pinching his menswear with corseted waists.

In a post-show scrum, the designer said he decided to inject more into his second couture endeavor and follow his instincts more. This led him to an “otherworldly futurism” that eventually yielded to the legacy and opulence of founder Cristóbal Balenciaga. “Beauty in its classical context, let’s say,” he offered.

Historians will surely cite this show for propelling couture into the Insta generation. After the show, guests were invited to visit the twin Balenciaga Couture boutiques where it is possible to purchase looks straight from the show and other limited edition products. At the men’s store, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli donned a crumpled hoodie and looked at himself in the mirror. At the women’s store, Charbit pointed to the most expensive item hung behind frosted glass: a $100,000 coat in a trompe-l’oeil tweed of ribbons, beads and sequins. A scented candle in a chrome cartridge will cost a customer 350 euros; the boombox, resulting from a collaboration with Bang & Olufsen, 8,500 euros.

“A lot of people started asking me after the first couture, ‘How do we buy couture? Who do we call? People don’t know, especially from the younger generation of up-and-coming couture customers who we want to establish a dialogue,” Demna explained. “There are a lot of [garments] with volumes that don’t really need to be custom-made. It’s more a question of technique, material, assembly.

The designer also brought Balenciaga couture into the eco-era, making about a quarter of the collection through upcycling: trench coat belts became an oversized trench coat; leather belts, a curvy tube dress and vintage wristwatches, quirky jewelry that keeps spinning.

In a recent interview with a French newspaper Le Figaro, Demna compared himself to a fashionable osteopath, working his blockages. He is also a magician.

This story originally took place on WWD.

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A look from the Balenciaga couture presentation.
Balenciaga

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