Demna Gvasalia made his much-anticipated debut for Balenciaga today in Paris. Known primarily for his Margiela-inspired streetwear, which he puts forth for his own label, Paris-based Vetements, Gvasalia was tapped last year to replace Alexander Wang following his roughly 3-year tenure at the famed Parisian house.
And thus far, some critics have taken the bait. Of the week’s most anticipated show, the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman wrote: “By drawing on the architectural approach of Balenciaga the man, as well as the visual language he created — the cocoon coat, the sac dress — and combining them with the wardrobe elements of today, Mr. Gvasalia wrested the brand into 2016.”
She continued: “If the latter pieces may be difficult to wear — most women do not want their hips as a focal point — and if stirrup pants (an unfortunate trend at the moment) and multi-print paisley and floral scarf dresses with matching jacquard boots were less successful, strapless evening sheaths in silver sequined flowers or embroidered velvet with a kick pleat over one knee had a refined rigor. As a whole, the collection was clear in antecedent and concise in effect.” Finally, she notes, the designer’s take on the codes of Balenciaga by way of this collection “briskly allayed the fear that Mr. Gvasalia would smash the Balenciaga name and heritage to the ground.”
Others haven't. Consider WWD's Bridget Foley, who wrote: "What can’t be said of this collection: where it’s going. The problem with the currently au courrant “wardrobe” approach to the runway is that it offers many options and often, little vision. It’s fine for Miuccia Prada to design for, as she said, “different characteristic moments” in a woman’s life; she’s Prada, and it rocked. Gvasalia rooted his premise for Balenciaga in cut and construction, so there was a definite thought process in the works. But the result was too broad a swing, from good-side-of-the-Eighties racy to — what’s a nicer word for frump-ola? A designer runway collection that tries to speak to everyone runs the risk of not being heard in all the fashion noise."