One of the best things about any Demna Gvasalia show is how, beyond all the obvious viral moments (say, platform Crocs, Bernie Sanders merch, or Kanye West sitting front center in a Harley Davidson mask), there's always a couple of easter eggs that will catch you off guard.
Everybody had their own favorite takeaway from yesterday's Stories-breaking Balenciaga couture renaissance; for me, it was the socks. Now, I know what you're thinking. "It's the first Balenciaga couture show in 55 years, and this bozo is excited about the socks?" Bear with me, however, for these weren't just any old pair of socks. (Nor were they Kanye's Swoosh Crews.)
Posting behind-the-scenes, fashion's favorite documentarist Loïc Prigent gave us a swatch of some colorful les chaussettes. Look closer, and it seems they were created in tandem with Gammarelli, more familiarly known as Papal tailors since 1798. I mean, what!? Those are two names I never expected to see sitting side-by-side. Usually, ecclesiastical socks are only available in three colors: red (for cardinals), black (for priests), and purple (for bishops) or white (worn by the Pope), but below, we see beiges, green, and navy.
Quite how the tie-up came about I'm not entirely sure, but I suspect it's something to do with the fact that Cristóbal Balenciaga was a devout Catholic who often utilized religious references in his designs. Maybe that's what convinced the Gammarelli family, now in its sixth generation, to help out with some supplies. Perhaps just a small run as a special one-off to mark the occasion.
It's not the first time Gammarelli socks have made their hallowed way outside the Vatican (anyone can buy a pair for about Є15 a pop from the country's tiny shop in Rome, meaning they often prove popular among visiting tourists). Édouard Balladur, the former Prime Minister of France, used to order his exclusively from here, while Reynolds Woodcock — the persnickety couturier played by Daniel Day-Lewis in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread — favored a more flamboyant type of purple hosiery.
“[This show] was my minute of silence to the heritage of Cristóbal Balenciaga, but also a moment of silence to just shut up for a minute,” said Gvasalia backstage, when asked about his decision to show in silence. As always, all the Georgian's references to Cristóbal were on point, from the plastic Artemide Nesso table lamp hats that were around during the master's heyday to the '60s dresses. But it's the nod to Gammarelli that does it for me. Sometimes, there truly is no better gift than socks.