Azure skies, meticulously designed millionaires' villas and the Hollywood Sign in the line of sight to set the scene: welcome to Los Angeles for the Balenciaga Fall 2024 show. Never before had the French fashion house paraded in the City of Angels. However, this destination owes nothing to chance. Almost exactly a year ago, Balenciaga was in turmoil after a media scandal linked to a controversial advertising campaign. A scandal that had emerged on the other side of the Atlantic, largely fuelled by conspiracy theorists from the Qanon movement... A year later, the French fashion house chose to present its Fall 2024 collection in the eye of the storm, in the United States. For her, it's about renewing the dialogue with an essential market, reconnecting with a country where the brand's expansion continues (a new store has just opened on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills with a floor dedicated to Couture like there is only in Paris), but also to re-understand each other.
The Increased Altheisure Pace
The Los Angeles sports outfit revisited by Demna for Balenciaga with 10XL bras, leggings and sneakers and Balenciaga leggings
The mere mention of the name Los Angeles is enough to conjure up a multitude of images and references that have shaped American mythology. Obviously, the city of all possibilities inspires Demna, the artistic director of Balenciaga. For this show, he revisits all the iconography of Californian pop culture that has been infusing for decades – through films, series, clips, reality shows, paparazades, stars... – reinterpreting them with Balenciaga codes. And it starts with the location of the parade, on Windsor Boulevard: a real dive into Hollywood films such as Sunset Boulevard or the cult What Happened to Baby Jane (1962), shot in this chic and residential area of Hancock Park. Then, the parade opens with girls and boys in a hurry, ready for their morning workout, as one sees again and again in the streets of L.A. They have an athleisure look in bras, black leggings and 10XL sneakers on their feet, yoga mats under their arms. They drink healthy energizing juices – black of course, THE Balenciaga color – co-created exclusively, in collaboration with Erewhon a trendy grocery store in Los Angeles, and they come back from this organic market with imitations of kraft paper shopping bags, made of reusable nylon.
A nod to the velvet Juicy Couture joggers, worn by Paris Hilton in the 2000s, and worn here with XXL heeled UGGs. Balenciaga
Demna plays with references, rethinks them, transfigures them. This is followed by silhouettes with the profile of a Paris Hilton or a Pamela Anderson from the 90s/2000s who would have taken a leap into the future, in pink velvet jogging suits, Juicy Couture style, exposed thong, and UGG XXL with heels. In this revisited Los Angeles, Justin Bieber lookalikes in baggy pyjamas, oversized jackets and sweatshirts on their heads meet as well as ultra-chic customers from the luxury boutiques of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, dressed in tweed suits. Rapper Cardi B makes a splash in an oversized electric blue coat, sharp claws and a ponytail. The entire collection demonstrates both a mastery of know-how but above all an acute understanding of the time, the people, their habits and their paces that Demna carries into his own universe.
Creations made for the red carpet
Wedding dress or red carpet outfit, inspired by original models by Cristobal Balenciaga Balenciaga
Obviously, Los Angeles without red carpet is not Los Angeles. The show inevitably ends with a series of spectacular evening outfits, inspired by original models created by Cristobal Balenciaga. All of them are tailored to the Bigger than life dreams and aspirations that predominate in Hollywood. "I wanted to celebrate the many facets of Los Angeles by considering all the clichés, all the stereotypes associated with this iconic city," Demna said after the show. It also echoes my approach to working for Balenciaga. I like to explore a broad spectrum, designing lazy jogging shorts as a structured couture dress."
A star-studded front row
The collection subtly blends homage and jubilant parody. A striking vision, immediately understood and applauded by an all-star cast of celebrities who came to watch the show as neighbors, including Eva Longoria, Kim Kardashian and her sister Kendall Jenner, Lisa Rinna and her daughters, Brooklyn Beckham and his wife Nicole Peltz. "Amazing," she exclaimed backstage after the show. "The energy was incredible, the spirit of this collection was so L.A. I want to wear all the sweatshirts. It was just cool." Salma Hayek Pinault and her husband François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of Kering, owner of Balenciaga, were also present. But the big star of this front row was undoubtedly the Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, who became the new ambassador of the house on the day of the show. "Balenciaga has been with me through some of the most memorable moments of my life, from my wedding to the Oscars red carpet." The story continues to unfold.