Balenciaga presented its summer ’21 collection with a video that takes a wearable wardrobe onto darkened streets during a time when fashion week would typically light up Paris.
Here sustainability is addressed – in terms of design, production, and wear – with 93.5 percent of the plain materials in this collection either certified sustainable or upcycled and 100 percent of the print bases have sustainable certifications. Most pieces are unisex, a template that will diminish the environmental impact of a gendered production model. Intentionally destroyed or aged pieces and recontextualized concepts emphasize the importance of technical construction and underline the idea of finding unconventional beauty in classic, timeless garments.
At-home essentials are reimagined for an outing, as outerwear or eveningwear (i.e. a faux shearling bathrobe; a layered silk pajama suit). Various types of dresses are patched together and engineered to create garments that can be worn in more than one way, each time creating a new silhouette. Streetwear codes are reconstituted (i.e. a bomber-lined track jacket; a plissé soleil skirt tracksuit), while deconstructed sweatshirts turn into headwear or are attached to the waistbands of pants. An ever-present trompe l’oeil concept is found in various jeans interpretations, from denim-printed fluid silk and five-pocket pants in jersey to full leather garments that look like a pair of classic five-pocket jeans and jean jacket from afar. Upcycled elements fuse craft and couture techniques (i.e. a shoelace-fur coat; denim scrap knitwear; patchworks of deadstock boots, purses, and motorcycle pants). A sheer gown is made with basketball net chains, recalling the iconic fisherman’s net dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga. A slip dress appears delicate but is made with tiny metal armor-like links.
The Neo Classic Bag is distressed and “destroyed” in tribute to its 20-year anniversary. The Ville Bag comes in soft leather for the first time and an Hourglass Bag is covered with faux shearling. Shoppers display pet shop-inspired packaging. Nylon backpacks and belt bags are proportionally oversized.
X-Pander is the newest addition to the Balenciaga sneaker family. A classic runner upper is mounted on springy soles, the heels of which expand with each step to achieve a bouncier gait. Another pre-collection shoe highlight is the Rhino derby with a pyramid-shaped toe and extra chunky sole. Home and hotel slippers, pool slides, and orthopedic sandals are elevated and reimagined with the addition of heels or platforms.
Graphics include a melting smiley face, a childish drawing of planet Earth that says “I Love You”, as well as more conceptual prints such as “Your Logo Here” artwork and a pixelated, seemingly bad quality image that reads “Paris Fashion Week”.
The summer ‘21 presentation video is directed by Walter Stern and set to a new cover of Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night” by BFRND. Throughout the video, large, wraparound sunglasses are omnipresent. Their anatomical shape and light- obscuring lenses, especially at night, represent an irreplaceable element of the fashion silhouette.