Balenciaga’s spring 2024 show at Paris Fashion Week took place inside a red theater with dramatic curtains, where Isabelle Huppert narrated an increasingly intense reading in French about a tailored jacket. The show opened with all-black draping and a back-to-basics mentality, highlighting folded trench coats, floral maxi gowns with spliced draping, and bomber jackets layered over t-shirts and bold maxi dresses.
Overall, it felt like a return to core Balenciaga, with an emphasis on everyday wearability that was made more personal through a diverse cast of models including the fashion critic Cathy Horyn, the industry icon Diane Pernet, and Amanda Lepore, who was the second-to-last model to slowly walk the show in a black shimmering gown. And then there was the stylized element of it all: many of the models wore upside-down sunglasses, bags decked out in charms, or were spotted carrying passports. Some even carried shoes and accessorized with small metal rings on chains as necklaces.
But the crux of the collection was all about big shoulders. There were insanely oversize shoulders on jackets and blazers, grandiose proportions and unusual shapes, hoodies under giant blazers and giant cloak-like coats—all of which culminated in a brave new take on tailoring. For diehard fans of Demna’s Balenciaga, this collection marked an authentic return to his aesthetic. Long sleeves were bunched up with a futuristic, apocalyptic feeling. The big shoulder, the long sleeve, and big and baggy silhouettes reigned supreme.
Whether or not you identify with Demna’s Balenciaga aesthetic, this season, he successfully casted a series of individualized characters—an interesting move, since body and age diversity has unfortunately taken a backseat at the majority of fashion shows this season. Supple leather trench coats and matching pants and bags were everywhere, as were pants with different color legs. The message seemed to be about layers upon layers upon layers—but there were also the most basic hoodies and pants sure to speak to the brand’s main audience.
When it came to accessories, models lugged shopping totes covered in strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Robes, furry shoes, and the big dad sneakers that some may say started it all for Demna added some post-ironic humor. Tight sweatsuits, sporty glasses, and camo cargo pants and utilitarian jackets added to Demna’s cast of characters. A “see now, buy now” t-shirt and passport lanyards also hinged on irony.
Black, black, and more black was layered with baseball caps and sunglasses for a play on anonymity in a social media-first world. A sequined red maxi dress, a gown with angular faux hip bones, and gold dresses that served as some of the last few looks gave the collection the drama to match Huppert’s rising voice. The final, bouncing wedding dress (made of archival materials) with its big and voluminous veil only added to all the theatrics.