Balenciaga Resort Collection 2019
“The symbol on the bags is the one for transgender.” Demna Gvasalia designed the Balenciaga Resort collection six months ago, but the arrival of the pink and the blue leather shopping bags printed with the black circle, arrow, and cross couldn’t be better timed. They’re chic, they’re cute, and they defy President Trump’s intention to define transgender out of existence. Voilà! The perfect item for a holiday gift this year. “I often try to include some messages that are important to be spread,” Gvasalia says. “It’s almost like advertising an idea, this very strong symbol.”
Gvasalia’s stand against the encroachment of right-wing conservatism might also be read into the flag-print shirt that comes some way into the men’s collection. He shrugged off a suggestion that it might be a plea for unity in a darkening era of nationalism (see French President Emmanuel Macron’s definition of patriotism versus nationalism in his Armistice Day speech), but you can read what you like into the selection of flags used: France, Italy, Germany, Austria, England, Switzerland, two Balenciaga logo flags, “and one that we made up.”
The world citizens of Balenciaga-land have plenty of signs and symbols to play with should they choose. Also, if you look close, there is a seismic piece of fashion news for men snuck in here at ground level. Of all the footwear in this lookbook, there are only two pairs of Balenciaga’s famous monster-sole dad sneakers. In a move guaranteed to shake the sneakerhead world from top to toe, all the rest are dark leather shoes with elongated square toes, name of Rim. Why? Well, Gvasalia has taken this gasp-making step into once-reviled footwear recently. Such are the winds of fashion: The man who helped plunk gigantic fashion sneakers on the map becomes one of the first to dare step onward from their orthodoxy.
Certainly, in this interim-collection setting, they’re being broken in gently, shown in the context of demi-casual street looks: the slightly flared boot-leg jeans, utilitarian quilted coats, plaid jackets, pullover sweater hybrids. But in the timeline of trend, these shoes are the precursors of the bigger step Gvasalia took with his Spring collection toward tailoring and formality.
Are trainers and hoodies about to be made obsolete? Of course not; they’ll continue on their way at Balenciaga as per usual. Only a fool would stamp out a line that commands a large income stream, and Gvasalia is no one’s fool. On the contrary, he is one of the smartest fashion designers of our times. One who is both building onto the Balenciaga wardrobe—all the signatures of silhouette and Parisian chic are visible here, for women—while knowing how to advance fashion incrementally into new territory.
Photo: Courtesy of Balenciaga