Red Carpet catwalks, a gimp-suited Kardashian and a Simpsons collaboration later, Balenciaga is back with their latest spectacle of epic digi proportion in the form of a completely CGI rendered campaign. In a world with its eyes glued to its smartphones, this season Creative Director Demna took us back to our computer keyboards, pressing play on his most recent collection in true normcore fashion, in the shape of pixels and life simulation. Appointed Creative Director of the house back in 2015, the Georgian iconoclast has turned the brand on its head forging his own satirical genre of couture, creating clothes and campaigns so hyperbolic they border maximalism. No stranger to poking fun at the traditions, the designers ability to include his audience in-on the joke , seemingly breaks down the imaginary wall between fashion and the real world, shattering the idea that normcore is just about aesthetics/visuals but more creating a narrative of the human condition that everyone can relate too. Their SS’22 campaign is no exception.
Low-fi slicked hair , pixelated biker jackets and wide shouldered ensembles stand stoic against the blood red backdrop, mirroring that of the red carpet runway presentation Demna presented just 5 months earlier. Robotic renditions of Demna’s tribe of house models give off an immense air of swagger, each character with their own personality and identity. Channelling the kind of video game heroes (or villains) you dreamt of being as a child, Balenciaga’s avatars live on the red carpet as a pixelated glitterati. Yet aside from their characteristics the clothes take centre stage with fine denim detailing, bejewelled accessories and glossy croc handbags rendered into the digital realm with detailed precision.
At the intersection of a fashion house and an entertainment company, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish whether Demna’s efforts are merely to troll its viewers with its bordering satirical narratives on pop-culture/fashion. Yet the campaign’s POV taps more into a millennial nostalgia, taking the spectator back to the 2000’s, sitting up on a school night, square eyed, building houses and living daily life through avatars on the latest life-simulation game. Catching the eye of Balenciaga’s visual team, London-based Visual Director Jared Behl stepped onto the project as Creative Consultant, after his work came to their attention years prior. At its inception, the House developed Behl’s concept, a humorous spin on a fashion campaign using augmented reality (life simulator games). Also teaming up with 3D Artist Claudia Maté at its helm, the campaign took a life of its own, channelling the familiarity that many of us had playing games like ‘TheSims’, still keeping a jovial element of humour even underneath the layers of high-end cybergoth suiting and pink silk dresses. Transforming a concept, previously submitted as a university project into imagery plastered over the city of Paris. Demna continues to solidify why fashion’s eyes will remain on him and Balenciaga for the foreseeable future.
Words by Adam Last
Pictures by Sebastian Owsianka & David Salazar Gorosarri