For the first time in its 97 year history, iconic Parisian brand Balenciaga has announced its debut menswear runway show. It’s a continuation of the changes under the new creative director, Demna Gvasalia, who also heads up the much lauded Vetements collective.
While Balenciaga has previously showed menswear in a pared-down setting (“look books” rather than full-blown “shows”), this debut is a definitive statement from the label, known for its ultra-feminine style, about the economic importance of menswear, which is growing 1.5 times faster than womenswear.
The appointment of Gvasalia in October last year (following the departure of Alexander Wang), was seen as both controversial and very much part of the fashion zeitgeist: there was a stylistic clash (Vetements’ anarchic take on streetwear and Balenciaga’s urbane sophistication), but also the knowledge that the anti-fashion Vetements is the most exciting thing to happen to the industry in years.
The first womens wear Balenciaga show under his leadership, in March, was both spectacular and jarring. It featured distorted silhouettes and exaggerated takes on everyday wear: anoraks sharply shawled, oversize shirts half tucked in, and platform boots with architecturally amplified soles.
And Gvasalia’s “Vetements-ification” of the menswear line is expected to be envelope pushing to the extreme. More extreme than former creative directorAlexander Wang, who took the label’s tailoring in an edgy direction. Balenciaga’s last menswear range (a presentation for Spring/Summer 2016) featured a quasi-military theme, full of muted earth tones and an industrial element. Gvasalia could bring his trademark sartorial hallmarks to the new line: enlarged hoodies and anoraks with elongated sleeves. In an official statement, the label promises that the show will “redefine the boundaries of contemporary fashion”.