When Balenciaga revealed that it would show its Spring 2023 collection off-calendar in New York, we expected an MTA collab at the very least. Nope! Demna instead flipped the script and took fashion to FiDi.
Specifically, Balenciaga's SS23 runway show was held in the New York Stock Exchange, where you'll rarely see anything more stylish than a Patagonia vest or Hermès belt. It's not even the wildest venue that Demna's ever taken over, though: remember when Demna did McDonald's?
The ensuing presentation, what with its BDSM-ready models and mutated tailoring, was a loose commentary on contemporary obsession with stonks, as the kids call them, though there were no obvious crypto or NFT nods (hooray!).
But, then again, the show coincided with Balenciaga's announcement that it'll soon accept cryptocurrency payments, so it's not like Demna is above a little commercialism.
The actual show was classic Balenciaga and also not. Beneath the usual baggy hoodies and floor-scraping jeans, models were cocooned in a layer of fetish-y latex, which is turning into this season's must-have textile (pro tip: leave this fad for the celebs unless you're sweat-resistant).
Early looks stripped away the Balenciaga branding that the fans crave, spotlighting the house's renewed focus on silhouette-savvy ready-to-wear with a semi-formal bent.
This was a mélange of Balenciaga's new "Eveningwear" and "Garde-Robe" ("Wardrobe" in French) collections, which update staple shirts, trench coats, and double-breasted overcoats in lusty silk and fuzzy wool, all grounded by some of the biggest Balenciaga boots ever devised.
Just like the Balenciaga Gucci "Hacking Lab," Fendace's Swap, and Jean Paul Gaultier's RTW rebirth, Balenciaga x adidas fancies itself too good for the juvenile moniker of "collab." What do you think this is, a Supreme drop?
Instead, the press release simply refers to the partnership as "Balenciaga / adidas," because, sure.
The former includes at least a Triple S, Sock Sneakers, and a destroyed Stan Smith while the latter encompasses a full spread of typical adidas gear, like hoodies, track suits, and socks, all remixed to Balenciaga's standard (read: everything is cut HUGE).
Some of the Balenciaga x adidas kicks dropped online immediately following the show, foretelling the entire collection's release, which I presume will be later this year.
The adidas collaboration ain't even the nuttiest thing that Balenciaga's done in the past month (ahem, Paris sneaker) but it is another luxurious feather in adidas' cap, having already dreamed up collaborations with Gucci and Prada in the past year alone.
While the SS23 collection does speak to Demna's canny ability to make a fashion show into event viewing, it also underscores adidas' ambitions to be the luxury industry's go-to sportswear partner, except for when LVMH is involved, perhaps.