#SuzyPFW Balenciaga: High Tech And High Marks

Those shoulders! So sharp and so definite in outline that the silhouettes of the Balenciaga clothes looked like they had been drawn with a mathematician’s compass and square.

The women’s coats, in lilac, royal blue or shocking pink, stood out – even against the vivid shades and psychedelic patterns projected inside a cylindrical LED screen-panelled tunnel.

Demna Gvasalia, Balengiaga’s creative director, had collaborated with Canadian artist Jon Rafman to produce an immersive experience that could have been the set of a sci-fi movie. It felt as if the curved walls were swirling and the floor shifting as the models took a walk down the digital wild side.

Set in this dazzling dreamscape tunnel, the immersive fashion show brought with it an all-encompassing virtual reality effect.

“We’ve explored tailoring from rigid and stiff to square shoulders,” said Demna. “I don’t know if you noticed at the beginning of the show that the shoulders are constructed almost like little sofas that you can sit in!”

The sensory experience was put together by Rafman without him ever seeing or discussing the clothes. The video was titled ‘The Ride Never Ends’ and started with the sudden appearance of a panic-inducing error screen – only to be washed away and replaced by eerie digital ecosystems and alien landscapes.

“I like it when two worlds collide to reach different audiences and create conversations across different institutions,” explained Jon Rafman. “It’s the first time I’ve ever worked with a fashion label in a commercial context but the core of my practice is experiences of different kinds.”

It would have been so easy for the presentation to have drowned the fashion show in the globules of drops that were the visual kick-off. But the clothing was powerful, from the big-shoulder tailoring to slightly softer pieces like a plain pink T-shirt on a man and, for women, little black dresses with curvy necklines.

All sorts of references appeared: from a playing card print shirt to a corny glittering Eiffel Tower pattern or a black and white checked mini dress. There were even new versions of Demna’s logo prints sliding across T-shirts and summer dresses, the body slashed away on one side.

The designer pointed to the change of pace as 1980s revival clothes that opened the show morphed into fluid tailoring for both men and women at the end.

“Tailoring is actually comfortable!” he pronounced in explanation of the final looks. “There are no shoulder pads, no epaulettes, you don’t need to wear a shirt because it has transformed into a jacket.”

“It takes away those obligations of a classical look,” Demna continued. “We are able to dress the new generation of people to make them wear tailoring.”