In a terribly Balenciaga-style twist, the biggest Balenciaga moment of 2023 isn't even Balenciaga's own doing. Instead, user-generated AI Balenciaga videos are currently cornering the market on Balenciaga content, giving the luxury house a shot in the arm it never coulda seen coming.
It's an interesting inversion of the 2022 Balenciaga scandal that rocked the world: in both cases, Balenciaga branding was recontextualized by third-parties but these AI Balenciaga videos are far more benign.
In late March 2023, AI artist demonflyingfox uploaded a video to their YouTube channel. Titled Harry Potter by Balenciaga, the clip exploded into virality, eventually garnering several million views in only a few days.
As with any viral moment, imitators sprang up but quick. There's an entire TikTok account dedicated to collecting these kinds of clips, which nearly all put some famous fictional characters in recognizable Balenciaga statement pieces.
It's not clear why exactly Balenciaga is the brand at the heart of this — the house of Demna is one of the most visible fashion brands on the planet, in fairness, and its outré runway looks are far more memeable and memorable than most peers — but it's more fitting than these AI creators may realize.
Balenciaga is also behind some of the most fascinating ad imagery in the biz, intentionally framing its already out-there clothing in shareably bizarre imagery.
If Balenciaga wasn't currently playing defense as it navigates its way back into the mainstream amidst lingering scandal fallout, I'd have to wonder whether or not the entire Balenciaga AI meme trend is some sort of subliminal marketing campaign.
Anyways, because these Balenciaga meme videos are generated with AI software like Midjourney, they've been extraordinarily easy for tech-savvy creators to produce (demonflyingfox offers tutorials on their Patreon), so there's been a real glut over the past few weeks. And they're still coming: demonflyingfox's Breaking Bad Balenciaga video is currently steamrolling Twitter timelines.
And it needn't ought to be said but, yes, none of us are in favor of AI's potential job-upending utility. No one ought to be put of of work by robots. That being said, no one ought to have the ignominy of designing Harry Potter characters in fake Balenciaga outfits so in this case, victimless crime.
So, let's go worst to best and see which, if any, videos border on Balenciaga believability.
As funny as it is to hear the voice of Peter Griffin coming out of someone wearing Balenciaga's puffer coats and jeans, this is unfortunately a complete misfire, demonstrative of the issues in translating 2D cartoon characters to AI-generated 3D designs. Stewie Griffin is particularly frightening.
Plus, with the Simpons clan already signed on as Balenciaga models, I think we're good on Balenciaga cartoons.
Star Wars characters in Balenciaga clothes makes so much sense but the concept is once again let down by the difficulty in wrangling AI software to produce recognizable faces. Plus, not all of the looks go far enough: Mace Windu in a couture gown works but Queen Amidala looks borderline unchanged.
A solid idea executed about as well as it could've been done. Unfortunate lip-flap issues aside, though, the placid faces and vacant eyes kinda detract from entire experience, though Logan Paul is basically equally expressive IRL.
Lord of the Rings
Again, some qualms with the recognizability and pushing the concept far enough but yassified Gollum could be a real Balenciaga model. And doesn't Samwise Gamgee look nice in his turtleneck and blazer?
Juiced Walter alone makes this one a win.
Could it be anything other than the original? demonflyingfox is a master of this craft and achieves a level of definition, crispness, and movement that most other creators can hardly touch.
It's always gonna be tough to create one-to-one faces with these AI tools but this gets the job done. Especially with evergreen demand for more dispatches from the wizarding world, no wonder the Harry Potter Balenciaga video was the one that launched a thousand clones.