On July 5th, Balenciaga presents its 52nd Couture Collection. It is Demna’s third for the house. The show, held in the salons at 10 Avenue George V, is scored to a BFRND reworking of Maria Callas’ operas in a never-before-heard a capella format. No known Callas recordings occurred in the studio or without orchestral backgrounds. BFRND collaborated with a sound engineer, using two AI programs to lift the soprano’s voice. The isolated singing becomes sonic couture.
Bridging the Past and the Present Through High Fashion
Honoring Balenciaga’s Legacy with a Modern Touch
The first look of the show is a reimagined design by Cristóbal Balenciaga, originally worn by his favorite model, Danielle Slavik, between 1964-1968. Grace Kelly was also fond of this ensemble and wore it for her 40th birthday in Monaco. The dress, adorned with velvet flowers and an integrated pearl necklace, is re-envisioned with mirrored construct, harmoniously blending the past and the present.
Architectural Tailoring: Marrying Traditional Aesthetics with Contemporary Appeal
The show transitions into architectural tailoring, with sharp shoulders, a curved-V neckline inspired by the hemlines of the couturier’s original tailored jackets, and a defined waist. The menswear features suits seemingly made of Prince of Wales check or pinstriped wool, but they are, in fact, crafted from Japanese denim woven on antique looms.
Trompe L’œil Surfaces: A Nod to Tradition in Modern Fashion
Trompe l’œil surfaces represent a contemporary approach to acknowledging traditional materials. Linen canvas panels are hand-painted and assembled into garments, creating the illusion of fur or denim. The detailing takes up to 280 hours to apply, adding dimension through oil paint brushstrokes.
From Two-Dimensional Designs to Sculptural Structures
Balenciaga’s fashion showcase includes wool outerwear, cotton trench coats, and cashmere scarves cut and fortified to appear windblown, achieved through two full days of hand-sculpting. The structures are reinforced by a knitted, bonded liner.
Extravagant Eveningwear and Innovative Techniques
The finale features eveningwear with taffeta treated to create a liquid, plasticized impression, and a bustier dress made of 10,000 crystals requiring 900 hours of production. The use of Swiss guipure lace, enlarged and woven chainmail, and sequin-sewn filigrees underline the commitment to craftsmanship.
The Intersection of Tradition and Technology
A finale dress, featuring CAD-designed, 3D-printed armor polished in chrome, demonstrates a fusion of classical techniques with cutting-edge advancements. It reinforces the idea that perfection in dressmaking now requires technology as an addition to the most important factor: the human component.