Demna Gvasalia takes the house to the next level with a gender-inclusive couture line.
Demna Gvasalia has confirmed Balenciaga's upcoming couture line will include menswear. The much-revered Georgian designer—who founded Vetements and has been the creative director of Balenciaga since 2015—sent the fashion industry into a tizzy in January when he announced a couture salon will be launched in July, a a major revival for the house that hasn’t produced a haute couture collection since Cristóbal Balenciaga shuttered his atelier in 1968. In lieu of the pandemic, the new collection has been delayed to summer 2021.
In an exclusive interview with WWD, Gvasalia revealed his plans for the coming seasons, including the gender-inclusive couture line. “I think men came to the point that they want to wear couture as well, and I know that we have some customers that will love that,” Gvasalia told WWD. “I want to kind of erase the gender identification of couture being only for women, or only for older women who have money to afford it.”
Balenciaga isn’t the first label to venture into men’s couture; in 2019, John Galliano debuted what he called an “artisanal” menswear collection for Margiela (the electric blue vinyl pants were unmissable), Kim Jones released his first men’s collection at Dior and Raf Simons premiered a masterful menswear collection. Nonetheless, Gvasalia’s coterie of die-hard menswear fans will salivate for his rule-breaking, couture take on men’s fashion.
Will a couture line propel Balenciaga into the 21st century on full throttle? Gvasalia told WWD that couture frees fashion from the constraints of industrial production and may again become a driving force in the industry. “Couture represents freedom of creativity and freedom in fashion,” said Gvasalia. “And that’s maybe the reason why I wanted to do it so badly.”
Gvasalia is also doing away with several traditions, from showing pre-collections during Paris Fashion Week and his main collections in June and December, to absorbing the merchandising department into his design studio and targeting future collection reveals to Balenciaga clients and not just the fashion set. As Gvasalia said in the WWD interview, “Fashion has become such a checklist. And I feel like I personally want to try to do it differently.”
The much-anticipated first couture show for the house—in half a century—sounds like a real treat. We can’t wait for Gvasalia to crash the couture scene.