Balenciaga is the brand people can’t stop talking about these days. It triggers the public and provokes all kinds of responses, from disgust and shock to absolute awe. To give credit where credit is due, Demna Gvasalia — creative director of Balenciaga — is responsible for the publicity stunt. Thanks to him, Balenciaga now is as popular as it once was — when legendary Cristobal Balenciaga was in charge of the brand.
So who is Demna, and what is it that he’s done?
Demna dreamed of conquering the fashion world ever since he was a child, and he worked his way to the top. He graduated from Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts and became a senior designer at Maison Martin Margiela. Working there, he developed several trademarks that he then brought to Balenciaga as well. Face masks as a symbol of anonymity, for example. Later, Demna went on to join Louis Vuitton.
In 2014, Demna and his brother Guram Gvasalia launched Vetements that – it’s no stretch to say – had shifted the paradigm of global fashion. First of all, the brand name translates from French simply as “clothes”. The brand used the post-Soviet street style and oversized fashion as a concept and made it popular. Thanks to Vetements, we fell in love with (or loathed) the “ugly” fashion.
Demna made his next fashion revolution when he became the head of Balenciaga. Under his rule, the brand rose from the ashes. The feminine looks were replaced by gigantic hoodies, statement wide-shoulder outfits, and crazy oversized fits. But! Despite his creative freedom, Demna Gvasalia pays respect to archival looks by Cristobal Balenciaga: every modern outfit he creates is always an homage to the original one. And it is a beautiful approach because today’s fashion has to be modern and attract the target audience, but the brand needs to be careful and adhere to its DNA.
The other remarkable and brave step forward Demna made for Balenciaga was the revival of Balenciaga Couture. It was the first couture collection of the brand in 52 years. The fashion show was held in Paris, during Paris Fashion Week 2021.
Clothes by Gvasalia often become the it-items that cause a lot of controversy. And it works in favor of the brands. Just a few examples:
1) In 2016, Gvasalia made a legendary t-shirt for Vetements that featured the DHL logo. The tee was sold out in days and became one of the most famous merch items in fashion history.
2) The Ugly Shoe trend started with Balenciaga’s Triple S sneakers. The brand combined soles of the running, basketball, and soccer sneakers to create the massive sole of the famous for being ugly shoes.
3) Demna Gvasalia managed to engage Vetements in a record-breaking number of collaborations. The collection was created in collaboration with Reebok, Canada Goose, Dr. Martens, Schott, Levi’s, Brioni, Comme des Garçons Shirt, Alpha Industries, Eastpak, Lucchese, and Manolo Blahnik.
4) The luxury IKEA shopping bag – just another Demna’s joke that became a huge trend.
5) The worn-out Balenciaga sneakers which cost crazy money. Those shoes sure made people talk.
6) The bag from the newest Balenciaga SS 2023 collection… that looks like a bag of Lay’s chips.
What else has he yet to show us? Let’s keep an eye on Demna Gvasalia’s career together. We’re sure of one thing though: if you work for your dreams, they tend to come true.
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