What the hell’s going on with Balenciaga’s Instagram feed?
You’re scrolling through Instagram one day, and suddenly you come across a blond-haired boy with his face squished against a glass window. Cheeks contorted to his left, his nose is deformed, and mouth puckered. He’s probably younger than ten years old, and in the background is a reflection of a girl – probably his sister – taking a photograph of him.
His green eyes stare directly at you through the photograph, as if to get your attention. It works. You’re raptured by the strangeness of it all.
What the hell is this? Since when did I follow such an account? Your eyebrows furrow in on each other, a hodgepodge of emotions – curiosity, annoyance and intrigue – acting as a force that pushes them harder inwards against themselves.
You’re focused so much on the bizarreness of the entire photograph, that the black and white checkered long-sleeved tee the boy wears takes a backseat. You fail to recognise the intricate diagonal black lines adding a dash of modernity to the garment, which look almost like a contemporary crossbreed of a monochromatic Mondrian painting and a flannel shirt off the H&M rack. You fail to notice the clothing, when in fact that is in fact the point of it all.
You see, this is an image on the Instagram of French fashion house Balenciaga.
Unofficially heralded by many as the meme page of the fashion industry, Balenciaga received this title following its string of unconventional and quirky posts making a mockery of the mundane. From championing the scruffy-looking, layered homeless aesthetic to models contorted in god-knows-what-they’re-called positions, the house’s Instagram page pokes fun at the whole disease of pretentiousness and elegance infecting the entire fashion industry. Looking at their Instagram feed, it seems as though just anyone can model for Balenciaga, and have fun while doing that.
Fun… Whether you might view the fashion industry as the manifestation and celebration of a cotton candy cloud of idealistic dreams or an industry that threads the fine line between ruthless realism and cultural creativity, you might know that Balenciaga is one of the hottest brands riding the rising wave of the streetwear scene in the industry right now.
What you might not know, however, is that the unexpectedly quirky creative direction of the French fashion house is intended, and it is making ripples across the ever-expanding fabric of the zeitgeist.
In order to wade through the hype and understand the pulse of this entire antifashion movement in fashion, look no further than the mastermind of it all: Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia.
“Being down to Earth is the new black.”
These are words uttered by Gvasalia himself when interviewed by British Vogue back in 2015. It’s almost become the core maxim grinding all the gears he’s set into motion in the fashion industry. Viewing the idealisic fashion universe from a steadfast, grounded lens is such a funny thing to say, especially when the house you’re creative director of is making profits that are soaring to stratospheric levels that few could ever have imagined. I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if Louis Vuitton or Chanel is the hottest brand. But Balenciaga? Damn… Despite his success at keeping up the balancing act of managing the creative direction of two global fashion labels (He’s creative director for both Balenciaga and head designer of design collective Vetements), Gvasalia remains extremely down to Earth. After all, this is a man who is “not interested in trying to live in some kind of dream,” for he’d be “bored to death.”
So, what pushes him?
“Pragmatism.” And in my opinion, an unparalleled sense of focus that would make a sharpshooter envious. While fashion insiders are caught up with the merry-go-round of creative directors departing and arriving at houses, or the fuzzy distortions of the irregularity of the global fashion week schedules, all Gvasalia cares about is the street. While brands are pursuing collaborations among one another and drawing from their archives from inspiration, Gvasalia fusses about melding his extraterrestrial dreams with the cold, hard cobblestones lining the streets of Paris. While labels are steering their creative direction towards aesthetics and branding across all their social media platforms, Gvasalia lets the people’s voices on the streets do the talking for him.
And he’s cashing in.