Demna’s 360° Winter 2022 show for Balenciaga took place on March 6 against the backdrop of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
It has been reported that over 1.3 million Ukrainians have fled their war-stricken country to seek safe shelter in neighbouring European states. To compound the situation, four million Ukrainians are expected to make an exodus from their homeland according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Many would not disagree that talking about fashion in the context of these turbulent times would seem rather inconsequential right now. Indeed fashion doesn’t exist in a vacuum as Balenciaga has shown – the brand has been posting news updates about the situation in Ukraine for the past few days on its IG Story and urging followers to donate to the World Food Programme.
Demna admitted in a letter penned for the show’s guests how he had almost canned the runway show. “Because in a time like this, fashion loses its relevance and its actual right to exist”, he noted. It’s a poignant reminder of how the designer still carries the scars of growing up as a refugee himself when he fled the civil war in his home country of Georgia in 1993 as a child before settling down eventually in Germany.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine “triggered the pain of a past trauma” he noted – but cancelling the show would be “surrendering to the evil that has already hurt me so much for almost 30 years”. Instead, what transpired on the runway was a powerful reckoning fuelled by resistance, defiance and, as Demna put it, “victory of love and peace”.
Ahead, we share some of the notes we jotted down from this show which is bound to be one of Demna’s most iconic presentations.