We can just picture it. A faceless, balding suit heading straight for a dom's dungeon after a long day of slinging stocks is conjured when Demna's – the designer who wishes to be addressed as a mononym these days – gimp mask-clad models stomped through the glichy maze of the New York Stock Exchange for the Balenciaga SS23 show.
It was here, in the very birthplace of capitalism, that Demna's latest offering of subversion was presented. Sinister, dystopic, and a little bit amusing, once the house's guests filtered across the trading floor, BFRND’s techno symphony (one that is wholly synonymous with Demna's reign at the brand by this point) blared through the room, and, lit by the hundreds of glitchy stock screens, Demna's gimp army emerged in place of its usual suited traders.
It was only a natural progression for the brand – the gimp masks, that is. Since the beginning of his career, Demna has experimented with face coverings and fetish wear as an extension of his queer identity and as commentary on identity as a whole. Here, notes on capitalism are brought forward from the telling nature of the show location, to the busy-looking models dressed in impeccable office attire. Naturally, no office attire is standard when top-to-toe latex serves in the place of long underwear and sheer stockings, but as for the garments themselves, they speak of corporate policy.
Oversized silk pussybow blouses were layered with sharp tailored black coats and tucked into fluid pencil skirts, while tailoring was nipped at the waist in contrast to the brands last SS22 collection, where oversized blazers hung off the body. Here, they were reinterpreted and offered alongside skin-tight LBD's and trench coats paired with voluminous skirts. Later on, relaxed tailoring was woven throughout in the form of long, easy coats, paired with business-style top handle leather bags and coffee cups with Balenciaga scrawled across them. If Demna was attempting to make a comment on the effect capitalism has had by stripping us of identity and turning us into faceless worker-bees for the corporations whose logos (Twitter, Disney, Visa) were glitching on the screens surrounding them, consider the point taken.
To add to the BDE (that's Big Dystopic Energy in this context), an eerie, slowed down version of Frank Sinatra's New York, New York interrupted the techno soundscape, contributing to a significant vibe shift, leaving us questioning whether or not Demna's gimp clad models were really faceless worker bees, or purposeful dom's ready to crack the whip and clean up the mess that capitalism has made? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.
It wouldn't be a Balenciaga hack without a little extra excitement thrown in, which Demna achieved this season by rounding out the collection with an exclusive Adidas collaboration. Even gimps, dominatrix's, and traders need the opportunity to get into their comfies, which were offered up as the brands signature baggy tracksuits complete with Adidas' three-stripe treatment, and logo printed footballs shirts. If designer sportswear is your calling, the brand has already set the capsule live, available to pre-order until May 29.
See the full Balenciaga SS23 collection, below.