Two years into his tenure, and it seems that Autumn/Winter 2018 proved something of a homecoming for Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga. The designer cited that he had had a creative epiphany, the result of which was unleashed in a more decisive and sharpened vision for the house, forging its future, but also carving its legacy. A sense of unity prevailed, not only through the first co-ed showing for the brand and the fluidity between the looks, but also in the designer's renewed focus on two key house codes: tailoring and volume.
Set in the shadow of a giant graffiti mountain, and in Gvasalia style, playing to the extremes, the collection steadily escalated its volume, starting super-sleek and razor-sharp, with bodycon minis, draped dresses and body stocking-esque sweater and trouser pairings in jolts of electric hues. Moving into tailoring on blazers and long coats, the silhouette was artfully nipped at the waist but accentuated at the hip – a classic Balenciaga move, in houndstooth, checks and tweeds, along with a few primary shades, too.
Taking protection against the elements as fundamental, this manifested in a multiplicity of layering and blown-out shapes that ventured a little Vetements at times, but brought back to Balenciaga with bubble shapes and a little fur glamour – faux, of course. A more restrained collection than previous seasons’ mash-ups, iterative appropriations and riotous bootlegging, it still retained that fun and optimism so bound up in the Gvasalia lexicon. Via World Food Program-branded pieces – proceeds of which will go to the UN charity – and the LGBTQ+ rainbow flags emblazoned on logoed garments, the designer demonstrated his commitment to using his work, his moment in the spotlight, as a platform, a mouthpiece to the world.