Balenciaga fashion house has garnered a lot of attention lately, from their tumultuous relationship with rapper Kanye West to their one-of-a-kind runway shows. The luxury fashion house was founded in 1917 by Cristobal Balenciaga, he opened his first Haute couture store in San Sebastian, Spain, and remained a force in the fashion industry until his retirement in 1968. While many know Balenciaga as an expensive luxury brand that excels in creating interesting designs, many have forgotten the way they revolutionized women’s fashion in the 1950s.
Balenciaga has innovation in its blood, founder Cristobal Balenciaga can be credited for introducing new mid-century designs and shaped into women’s wear in the 1950s, he strayed from the classic hourglass figure that brands like Dior held onto so tightly. This change in design allowed fashion to become more experimental, he also popularized ballroom hemlines and baby doll dresses that are still popular today. The brand’s recent summer 23 show, ‘The Mud Show’, also contains a lot of experimental designs with the use of alternative materials and oversized jackets that create the silhouette of an entirely different body, Balenciaga seems to be using this show as a presentation of just how much clothing can manipulate the human form. Perhaps that same sentiment is the reasoning behind the alternative walk and demeanor Balenciaga models have.
When watching a Paris fashion week show you expect beautiful models with perfect smizes to simply float down the runway and present beautiful designs in a classy manner. However, if you expect to see any amount of normalcy at a Balenciaga show you are sorely mistaken, not only do the models have an aggressive almost fighting walk but the runway itself is not what you would expect. The application and ‘Mud show’, saw models walking through a pit of mud that had been placed in the center of the room. The models stomped through the mud looking as sinister, and beautiful, as ever and became one with the elements as they splashed mud onto every article of clothing worn.
This unique catwalk partnered with the sour expressions and interesting walks of the Balenciaga models seems to reflect something deeper than just innovative design, perhaps the restrictiveness and normalcy that luxury fashion seems to have fallen into. Couture brands are built on exclusivity and promote the idea that their items are only worthy of those who can afford them. Perhaps Balenciaga is trying to retire this narrative that only one type or group of people should be worthy of luxury. On its website the brand described the purpose of the strange show as a way to defeat labels, putting an emphasis on how “great it is to be different from one another.” This new perspective offered may help the fashion world to understand that life isn’t just perfect models and pretty clothes floating down a runway all the time; sometimes it’s a mud pit that you’re angrily stomping through. But even when you do need to stomp through the mud pit that is life, at least do it a $2000 pair of Balenciaga shoes.