Everyone’s texting each other screenshots of conversations with different Balenciaga reps. One person has the time of the show, another the suburb. One says the post-show event is happening at Sunset Tower, another saw staff working nearby on the same street at an unknown location and speculated an after-party could happen there. Someone’s heard rumours of the collaboration between the brand and a popular health food store, Erewhon.
As the day of the French fashion house’s first Los Angeles show drew closer, few questions were answered: invites to the show itself arrived as silver, metal energy bars with no information (other than that they weren't for human consumption) provided. Post-show events in the form of license ID cards shared there would be cocktails from 7pm-9pm and, another email a few days later, confirmed an after party with Cardi B from 10pm-2am. But no location for either was disclosed. Whether it was just a confusing and stressful rollout strategy behind-the-scenes or a ploy to get the whole city talking, the latter happened. The night prior, many had had no further communications other than a save the date and a time their driver would arrive (and multiple group chats going about the fact). And when the drivers did show, it turned out they too had been speculating: “we” – as in, our driver’s colleagues also working the show – “think the location” — in the affluent suburban area of Hancock Park — “must be a home belonging to someone in well connected to the brand.” That one, at least, was wrong.
We arrive at a palm-tree-lined residential street that's been shut down and turned into a runway. It's flanked to the north with a perfect view of the Hollywood sign, surrounded by police, sniffer dogs, and what feels like a million black SUVs. The cars are lined up dropping off guests – most of whom are also in top-to-toe black. It’s winter in LA — thankfully — or everyone here in coats, leather jackets layers upon layers would likely pass out. Seats line the street three blocks down and guests begin to find theirs as celebrities arrive, including Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Tracee Ellis Ross, Rachel Sennott, Lil Wayne, and Nicole Kidman, who is later announced as the new face of the house.
It’s almost surprising this is the first time Balenciaga has turned its sights on LA given the brand’s creative director Demna’s longtime focus on exploring celebrity, fame, power and status through his collections, shows and campaigns. What better place to spotlight these subjects than Hollywood itself, home to A-listers, influencers and the mega rich?
Demna leaned into every LA cliche not only through the blue-skyed, palm-tree lined backdrop but through his clothes. Models donned the runway in leggings and crop tops, fleece tracksuits, sneakers and hoodies. Some walked alone carrying yoga mats over their shoulders with exercise towels poking out of their bags, while others talked amongst themselves carrying coffees in hand with platform knee-high UGG-like boots on their feet. The soundtrack featured a voice promoting wellness fads, exercise classes and cosmetic surgery to a base-heavy beat. As rumoured, Balenciaga confirmed a collaboration with popular LA health store Erewhon – known for its exorbitant prices and that Hailey Bieber smoothie – having Kardashian hold a shopping bag for her arrival and specific models do the same with Erewhon-branded hoodies and tees scattered throughout.
In the middle of the runway, came faux fur coats, including a bright blue piece modelled by none other than Cardi B, the woman whose name is on the late-night after-party invite, and later, skin tight evening dresses in nude and a deep red velvet. Actress Brigitte Nielsen was another cameo, wearing black jeans with thigh-high patent heels and a black turtleneck.
Immediately upon footage hitting the internet, the discourse was divided: is Demna making a statement about pop culture, or is he simply promoting and cultivating the very thing he first critiqued? It's hard to say, but what's clear is his brand is still breaking the internet each and every collection (and yes, parody or not, I will be buying that Erewhon tee).
Missed the show? You can rewatch it on the Balenciaga website, now.