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Demna Gsavalia has just unveiled his second menswear collection as artistic director of historic fashion house Balenciaga. Take a look through the highlights from the collection above, and keep reading for a breakdown of key looks, celebrity sightings, and trend takeaways from Balenciaga’s latest SS18 men’s show.

The Venue

A literal forest. Balenciaga made all those trendy souls trek out to the serene Bois de Boulogne in Paris, and that was the first likely clue to Gsavalia’s aesthetic turn to the “great outdoors” this season.

The Show Notes

According to the show notes, Balenciaga’s man is enjoying a real alfresco moment for SS18. While last season’s men’s collection was all about exaggerated corporate charm, Balenciaga has caught this season’s guy away from the ivory corporate tower, and at home in nature with his kids. Matthew Schneier at the New York Times called it first: “Alfresco Zaddy”, indeed.

The Guestlist

Needless to say, the global style set was out in full force but Agent Dale Cooper/Kyle Maclachlan made a surprise appearance at the show.

First Impressions

Zaddy

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It’s basically #dadcore taken to a new aesthetic extreme. While there were plenty of individual trend-centric pieces, the whole show played out like a subversive showreel of “fun for the whole family” stock footage.

The show opened with a slew of oversized, off-kilter tailoring as though it was a kind of organic mutation of last season’s corporate decadence. It quickly morphed into a parade of young dads literally carrying small children (wearing their own mini Balenciaga steez) in looks that seemed native to grainy ’90s sitcoms.

Plenty of trousers were high-waisted, tapered, and belted, and there was a smattering of overstated styling tricks such as collared shirts layered over collared shirts and shorts worn over trousers.

There were a few irony-loaded, purposefully cringe moments which only dad-style can induce too such as ’80s-esque prints on overblown polo shirts, dark Tropic Hawaiian shirts, dated motocross references, soulless corporate insignia, and a slew of peak-irony shopping bags.

It all ached with a nostalgic nod to ’90s dad-wear but it resounded the show note’s narrative of the Balenciaga corporate man taking time out, enjoying a leisurely nature moment with his kids in tow.

Cut my life into pieces

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A personal highlight (pictured above) was the elongated leather jacket scribbled with “the power” on its arms in a not-so-subtle nod to the iconic alt-rock band Papa Roach and their distinctive logo.

The Collection

#balenciaga s/s18

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You can see the collection in the gallery in its entirety above, but the standout looks included a slew of track and field jackets that really punctuated Gvsalsia’s “great outdoors” shtick.

Firstly, it’s easy to spot a thematic parallel between Balenciaga’s latest outing and buzzy London-based designer Martine Rose’s latest SS18 collection which was also heavy on the low-key outdoor-inspired gear. Rose has actually served as a consultant at Balenciaga for a while now, but she did take a break from Balenciaga this season, so it’s purely coincidental that both brands have managed to tread on such similar aesthetic territory, albeit with different results.

B A L E N C I A G A ?? #balenciaga #mood+#감성

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Balenciaga took the “outdoor trail” vibe a step further, obviously, by sending out models with their own Balenciaga-branded mountain bikes, which will available exclusively at colette, as part of Balenciaga’s summer takeover at the uber-trendy Parisian concept store.

Balenciaga SS18 #balenciaga #ss18 #parisfashionweek #pfw

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Balenciaga’s SS18 menswear collection is essentially a more relaxed, loose, logo-heavy rendition of its last season offering and it ultimately translates into “luxe dadcore”. Yet, the collection is also a testament to Gvsalsia’s own methodological cannibalization of the irony-laden “executive realness” trend that he himself pioneered last season. In fact, Balenciaga’s corporate cool from FW17 has manifested everywhere from Fendi to Wales Bonner this current season. Everything comes full circle.

The Accessories

Balenciaga is no stranger to the polarizing accessory. The brand’s now-infamous take on the iconic FRAKTA tote has inspired a runaway trend for IKEA fashion bootlegs, and the brand riled up the internet once more with the drop of its $1,100 shopping bag.

For SS18, the shopping bag was once again a massive point of focus. You’ll find Balenciaga logo-heavy “bodega” bags in leather and a variety of colors including black and magenta, as well as crochet shopping bags in neon lime, and more classic retail-grade bags awash in “tedious-but-trendy” corporate aesthetics.

The Trend Takeaways

Shirting is no longer restricted to the torso. In fact, the weekend executive now has dual-purpose for his everyday gear, and tailoring now doubles as protection against the elements when on a hiking trip with the Balenciaga bunch.

It’s fair to say that the street style set will follow suit and we can expect plenty of fashionistas to eschew the umbrella in favor of the shirt-scarf look at the next round of fashion week.

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Plastic fantastic! Balenciaga’s love for laminate was big this season. For those of you who want a thrifty hack for Balenciaga’s artificial-fash, then simply swipe one of those plastic ponchos on your next trip to an amusement park and wear over your finery for immediate impact.

The puffer jacket is going nowhere. In fact, it’s getting puffier. Balenciaga’s latest iteration is longer and more sculptural with a distinctive funnel neck which was reprised in a load of other outdoor jackets too.

For more SS18 fashion week coverage, check out Fendi’s latest collection.

Words by Kam Dhillon
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