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Balenciaga

For good or bad, Balenciaga's return to fashion doesn't feel all that different.

Balenciaga returned to the public eye with its Winter 2023 collection presented on March 5 during Paris Fashion Week, its first time presenting a collection since its 2022 campaign scandal.

The fact the runway show took place inside Paris' iconic underground shopping mall Carrousel du Louvre —surrounded by hoards of confused and excited tourists— seemed to be an extension of Balenciaga's playful side, but the show itself was a subdued affair.

In Balenciaga's show notes, Demna took readers on a journey through his ongoing love affair with fashion, up to the last few months where he admitted a need to "seek shelter."

The creative director was rumored to not even be in attendance, at first.

However, though Demna didn't walk out at the end of the show, he was indeed backstage with the press.

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As Balenciaga show itself began (interestingly, it wasn't streamed live), the white-washed room collapsed into an eerie silence before models arrived clad in a playful mix of structured tailoring, floral dresses, and Balenciaga's typically alien sportswear, all of which was set to the tranquil notes of a piano that became more electronically warped as the show went on.

Classic Balenciaga motifs were present: high-necked sequin gowns, floral dresses, boxy leather jackets, big-shouldered blazers, enormous denim layers, and bug-eyed sunglasses.

This is as somber as Balenciaga gets.

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The Balenciaga's collection represents a divisive return that some fans are all too ready for. Others, not so much.

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Since the expansive social media backlash over its adidas collaboration and gifting campaign, Balenciaga has mostly kept quiet until now.

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At first, Balenciaga attempted damage control by issuing several apologies from its team, CEO, and creative director, Demna but the controversy continued to swell beyond its control.

The house eventually wiped its Instagram and stayed mum until it broke Instagram silence to promote the Balenciaga Garde-Robe collection, announce its National Children's Alliance partnership, and tease the Fall/Winter 2023 runway show.

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No surprise that Balenciaga is now hiring a VP of communications, particularly someone who can handle a crisis.

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For Winter '23, we expected Balenciaga to hit restart in a major way, which is basically what we got with all the reiterations of classic Balenciaga motifs.

Ahead of the show, Demna teased that the collection would be "simple," speaking to the codes instilled by house founder Cristobal Balenciaga.

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To us, that sounded like Demna's vision of Balenciaga Couture, which focuses more on archival Balenciaga silhouettes than provocative graphic interplay. Not far off.

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Either way, the show was unsurprisingly bereft of Balenciaga's contentious gimmicks, like mud catwalks, $1,000-plus trash bags, and completely destroyed sneakers.

Obviously, Balenciaga took its big return seriously.

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