The models advance, right in the middle of a blizzard, carrying plastic bags: Balenciaga‘s Winter 2022 Collection runway show at the Paris Fashion Week is a painful representation of current events and refugees fleeing Ukraine.From personal experience, the Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia is well acquainted with the war, the fear, the nightmare of leaving home without knowing what the future holds: the story of his refugee experience has become a powerful denunciation of war.
The guests of the show – from Kim Kardashian covered in tape to Salma Hayek – found a letter written by the stylist and a t-shirt with the Ukraine flag on their chair: those colors, yellow and blue, have paraded on the catwalk as a hymn to resistance and courage.
It was Gvasalia’s way of describing his darkest days growing up in Georgia and what families in Ukraine are currently doing, to try to escape from their country in the midst of the war.
The designer recounts his pain in the speech before the bveginning of the show: “The war in Ukraine triggered the pain of a past trauma that I have been carrying since 1993, when the same thing was happening in my country of origin and, from that moment, I became a refugee forever. Forever, because what happens stays inside you. The fear, the despair, the realization that nobody wants you. But I also realized that what really matters in life, the most important things, are life itself, love and compassion. This is why working on the show this week has been very difficult for me. Because in times like these, fashion loses its relevance and its right to exist. Fashion week looks like nonsense. I thought for a moment to cancel the show (…) But then I realized that it would mean giving in to the evil that has already hurt me so much in these thirty years. I have decided that I will no longer sacrifice parts of myself for this war of senseless, heartless ego.”
Balenciaga stages asymmetrical black dresses that flutter voluminously in the arctic wind, oversized hoodies and padded outerwear; leather jackets that are made with the new Balenciaga alternative that imitates the leather of mycelium derivation. Bags combined with boots. And in the end, two looks, a yellow jumpsuit and a blue dress with a long flag train: the two unmistakable colors of the democratic and independent nation of Ukraine.