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Balenciaga rewinds to the 90s with a little help from Harmony Korine

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The cult Gummo director captures Demna’s SS22 collection in typical lo-fi fashion – here’s your first look at the whole thing

With fashion stuck in the 00s for the best part of the last five (hundred) years, trust Demna to switch things up for SS22. Sending out a cryptic invite in the form of a perspex-encased VHS, on which ‘The Lost Tape’ had been scrawled presumably in Sharpie, the Georgian designer slammed his finger on the rewind button when it came to his latest collection for Balenciaga.

Enlisting cult Gummo (1998) director Harmony Korine to capture grainy footage of a dingily-lit catwalk show, Demna hit pause somewhere in the mid-90s. After seasons floating about in the metaverse, trying out new tech in the form of AR and diving into videogames, the designer was firmly in analogue territory, as he mined the aesthetics of the era to create a hard-edged, almost entirely black offering. The Balenciaga classics were of course all there. Dramatic, floor-sweeping coats with hulking shoulders were layered over pumped-up suits, while XXXL denim jackets and wide-leg jeans were dipped in strong acid washes and distressed all over. Alongside this came flashes of newness that were still rooted in familiarity.

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The designer’s low-riding, flared raver jeans, so long they formed a bunched up concertina of folds at the hem, felt surprisingly fresh – though we’d urge anyone that gets their hands on a pair to avoid wearing them in the rain, unless you want to feel the steady, disgusting creep of muddy water up the back of your calves (or maybe do – it would certainly given them an authentic 90s flavour). Similarly, the skintight baby-tees, mesh tops, and shrunk-down, Brian Molko-esque twinsets felt brilliantly at odds with the overblown proportions Balenciaga usually likes to play with. Looks were finished with double-B branded boxers that peeped over waistbands, bolshy logo belts, formidable wader boots, and ‘Emo’ and ‘Lindsay’ bags. 

In other news, Demna has dropped ‘Gvasalia’ and will go only by his first name when it comes to his work, in a bid to separate his personal and professional life. The move comes at an interesting moment, given he’s recently kitted Kim Kardashian out in a series of face-obscuring looks, and attended the Met Gala alongside her in a similarly cover-up outfit comprising hoodie and face-mask. With Demna crossing over to become a pop culture figure himself – because how many designers can claim they’ve appeared on The Simpsons? – his decision makes a lot of sense. In 2021, in an age of deep surveillance and endless scrolling, privacy is perhaps the ultimate luxury. After a long, hard day at the office, Demna just wants to log TF off like the rest of us.

Check out the film below, and scroll up to take a look at Harmony Korine’s photos of the collection.