Has Balenciaga Been Forgiven? (Plus, More Paris Fashion Week Moments)
The brand enlisted all its VIP friends to attend its Spring 2024 show. But are we ready to move on from last year’s controversy? Balenciaga hopes so.
Fashion is not without its controversies. Every few years, there seems to be a scandal or severe lack of judgment that shakes up the industry. Who could forget Gucci’s “blackface” sweater in 2019, Loewe’s striped set that resembled Nazi concentration camp uniforms, or Dolce & Gabbana’s rampant history with racism and homophobia? (And the list goes on.) But few controversies have had the staying power of Balenciaga’s 2022 holiday campaign that seemingly promoted child sexualization and pornography (if you want the full breakdown, read Natalie Michie’s deep dive here).
The public outrage was palpable. People started boycotting the brand. Many called for creative director Demna’s resignation. Others actually started throwing away their Balenciaga bags. And rightfully so! It was deplorable that this idea went past all the approvals it surely did. But almost a year later, at Balenciaga’s Spring 2024 show at Paris Fashion Week, the brand has seemingly been forgiven, or at least, that’s what they want us to think.
The show started in a red Parisian theatre with an onslaught of celebs sitting in the front row: Paris Hilton, Ashley Graham, Kris Jenner, Charli XCX, Offset, and Emily Ratajkowski. Isabell Hupert provided the narration. Fashion critic Cathy Horyn, the industry icon Diane Pernet, and Amanda Lepore walked the runway. Then spotted in the lookbook was Kim Kardashian, who last November said she was “re-evaluating my relationship with the brand.”
The message seemed to be, “All these famous and important people have forgiven us, so you should, too.” It was an exercise in branding, shaping and controlling the public conversation. And many fell for it. Most major media publications choose to celebrate the “Demna-ness” of the collection and ignore its painful past. But the general public wasn’t as easily fooled. Social media quickly pointed out fashion’s short memory, and Kim Kardashian got called out on Reddit for the hypocrisy of her returning to the brand.
Despite Balenciaga’s questionable tactic, Paris Fashion Week Spring 2024 was reliably invigorating. As per Milan, pants were not popular and were replaced by short shorts. The fitted vs. oversized debate is still going strong. And preppy fashion isn’t going anywhere soon. Read on to see more of the most memorable moments from Paris Fashion Week Spring 2024.
Alexander McQueen: Bye bye Burton
@b0model #naomicampbell closing #alexandermcqueen ss24 | #fyp #b0model_ ♬ origineel geluid – music.
Since 2012, Anna Wintour has only given five designers standing ovations. But on October 1, 2023, she gave her sixth at the Alexander McQueen Spring 2024 show. What made this occasion so special? It marked the last collection by creative director Sarah Burton, who has been in the role for over 14 years. Fittingly, she was inspired by Queen Elizabeth I and her predecessor, Lee Alexander McQueen, and delivered a presentation so powerful that it had Naomi Campbell herself in tears.
Chanel: Hello Jennie!
@jnkclip jennie at chanel ss24 🤍 #jenniekim #jennie #jenniechanel #chanel #fashionweek #jenniexchanel #pfw ♬ greedy – Tate McRae
Did you hear that? If you didn’t, you might want to get your ears checked because the sound of Jennie from Blackpink arriving at the Chanel Spring 2024 show was deafening. Looking adorable in a cream-coloured, plush matching set, the singer sat beside Usher and Hari Nef in the front row and could be seen taking selfies. Then, the unexpected trio watched as Chanel’s garden-inspired warm weather offering descended the catwalk. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Jennie in one of the collared mini-dresses very soon.
Chloé: When in doubt, dance it out
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When the last model of Gabriela Hearst’s last collection at Chloé left the runway, everyone expected some tears — after all, she’s been at the helm for three years. What no one expected was for the catwalk to turn into a club (complete with members of the Mangueira Samba School of Brazil) with Hearst leading the charge. But that’s what she does so well — the unexpected. Like, say, taking a heritage label like Chloé and turning it into a sustainable super-brand. And not to worry, with her namesake brand, we haven’t seen the last of Hearst, only the beginning.
Christian Cowan: Stop, drop and roll
@enfntsterribles Who at #ChristianCowan thought it was a good idea to send out a model in a giant fur ball? #model #pfw #fashionweek ♬ original sound – ENFNTS TERRIBLES Magazine
Think it’s frustrating not having pockets? What about not having any armholes? Or any eye holes, for that matter. For his Spring 2024 collection, Christian Cowan took surrealism to the extreme by sending furry and sparkly spheres down the runway. While most models had to make due to only having access to their legs, one poor unfortunate soul had to walk the runway blind, wearing a giant fuzzy egg that covered her face. The result was a semi-viral video of her crashing into the DJ booth, proving that even fashion has limits.
Dior: Hello, darkness
Halloween? More like Barbie-ween. The pink costume will surely be all over the streets this spooky season. So, to stand out, we suggest taking inspiration from Dior’s Spring 2024 collection and embracing your witchy energy. Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by rebellious women and powerful outsiders, with photos of the 1957 film The Crucible (about the Salem witch trials) appearing on her moodboard. Think sheer lace, web-like ruffles and dark tones.
Louis Vuitton: Zendaya strikes again
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We hate to feel like we’re repeating ourselves, but truly, with Law Roach at her side, Zendaya can do no wrong. Take her appearances at the Louis Vuitton show. First came the drama, as she stepped out wearing a floor-length white gown with a jaw-dropping neckline. Next, she and Roach pulled from Louis Vuitton’s archives, and she wore a skirt set from its Resort 2015 collection. And to cap it all off, Zendaya went real retro and recreated a golden ensemble worn by Naom Campbell in a Spring 2004 campaign.
Miu Miu: Skater-boy school
If Miu Miu’s viral Spring 2022 collection was a cool girl’s guide to prep school, consider its Spring 2024 collection, her skater-boy boyfriend. Board shorts (yes, board shorts) were paired with polos. Low-rise pants had colourful boxer waistbands peaking out. And varsity striped sweaters were layered over button-downs. All that was missing was an Avril Lavigne-approved soundtrack, and the time machine to the 2000s would’ve been complete.
Valentino: Lonely boy, is that you?
Spotted: Dan Humphrey returning to his Constance Billard roots. Looking more like Blair Waldorf than his actual character, Penn Badgley (famously of Gossip Girl, hence the references) wore a grey skirt suit, white button-up and black tie to the Valentino show. But he wasn’t the only celeb doing some major fashion risk-taking. Andrew Garfield looked extra vibrant in a bubble-gum pink coat and spent the whole night chatting with pal Florence Pugh, who was similarly adorned in a blush suit. Simone Ashley went more biker than Stereotypical Barbie. And Cher surprised everyone by looking fabulous in tweed.