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Executive Realness at Balenciaga

The cut, the proportions and the styling made for an extremely loose take on tradition. This was corporate dressing for people who’ve never worn a suit or a tie.
By
  • Tim Blanks

PARIS, France —  Balenciaga shows give good curtain. The walls of the venues for Wednesday morning's men's' show were the kind of grey vertical slat blinds you find in high-rise offices. Corporate decor. Because, according to Demna Gvasalia, "corporate" was le mot juste for the collection. Balenciaga recently relocated to the same building where parent corp Kering is housed. Now Gvasalia swims in a daily sea of collar-and-tie convention. "He's the kind of man who might go into the office to work on Sunday", he mused.  But where other free-thinking peers might find "corporate" a dirty word, especially as the March of the Trumpkins corrals democracy into one giant business opportunity for oligarchs, this designer embraced it. "It's a reality." And an opportunity for him as well, he added, "to take away the rigidity of the corporate suit." He insisted he was after warmth, cosiness, comfort.

Still, it wasn't so much "reality" as "executive realness" that Gvasalia served. The cut, the proportions, the styling made for an extremely loose — in every way — take on tradition. Trousers hugged the hipbone, shirts flapped open over bare chests, a titan of industry’s topcoat was paired with leggings or puddling velvet pants and a Balenciagan take on the biker boot. Just in case you forgot where you worked, coats were branded KERING across the back. This was corporate dressing for people who’ve never worn a suit or a tie. Like Demna himself. His casting looked like a small business, where everyone from CEO to accountant to secretarial support to messenger to intern marched out of their offices and onto the Balenciaga catwalk. Where would he fit?  “Intern!,” he answered without hesitation.
Which is why the commercial meat of the collection will be the sly, hybrid sportswear — the “internwear”? —  that Gvasalia already owns through Vetements: layered, re-proportioned, but once again branded in the most corporate way imaginable.   Enough to make you wonder if he wasn’t, in fact, satirising "reality". But that’s “executive realness” for you.
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