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Balenciaga: Did the Luxury Fashion House Redeem Itself at Paris Fashion Week?

Balenciaga took to the runway at Paris Fashion Week, was their simple, paired-down approach enough to redeem their reputation since their fall from grace?

Kim Kardashian wearing Balenciaga at LAMCA Art and Film Gala in 2022. Balenciaga logo at their store in Milan
Kim Kardashian wearing Balenciaga at LAMCA Art and Film Gala in 2022. Balenciaga logo at their store in Milan. Photo credit: Tinseltown/Creative Lab/Shutterstock

The luxury fashion house Balenciaga showcased its fall 2023 collection at Paris Fashion Week on March 5th. Compared to their previous shows – notably, the ‘mud show’ featuring Kanye West for their summer 2023 collection at Paris Fashion Week in 2022, it seems like they’ve ditched the drama and the A-list celebrities and gone for a more straightforward, paired-down approach.

Many wondered if this is a response to their ad campaign scandal in November 2022. Can their show at Paris Fashion Week and their first show, post-scandal be a catalyst for Balenciaga’s redemption arc?

Playing it Safe?

The ready-to-wear fall 2023 collection, showcased at the Carrousel du Louvre, felt somber. The white setting juxtaposed with the oversized, black tailored suits, seemingly rid of logos and celebrities, highlighted that the fashion house’s creative director, Demna, wanted the focus on just the clothes this time – not the bells and whistles that they’ve had previously.

The clothes were constructed from tailored trousers, creating this silhouette that made it seem the models had four legs.

The white auditorium was an evident shift from the meme-worthy settings that their previous shows were in. “It had overshadowed the collections – most people didn’t see the clothes even when it was packed with great clothes.” Demna, creative director of Balenciaga, told Vogue.

Many people took to Twitter to highlight their opinions on the Balenciaga show post-scandal. The majority agreed that the collection was basic and Demna was playing it safe.

AD Controversy

In November 2022, Balenciaga released an advertisement that gained a heavy influx of backlash and controversy from the media. The ad campaign was linked to child pornography, featuring young children holding bears in bondage wear. Another ad campaign displayed documents related to a Supreme Court case on child pornography.

Cancel culture vultures immediately canceled the luxury fashion brand, and the backlash on social media was swift. Many consumers of the brand began boycotting the brand. Kim Kardashian, who was previously affiliated with the brand, spoke out and released a statement via Twitter and Instagram on how she is “re-evaluating [her] relationship with the brand” and how she is deeply “disgusted” and “shaken” she was at the ad campaign.

Demna himself and Balenciaga released a statement via Instagram regarding the two ad campaigns. They also pulled the ad campaign. The 41-year-old creative director condemned child abuse and wrote, “I want to personally apologize for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with kids, and I take my responsibility.” “I would NEVER have the intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn. I need to learn from this, listen, and engage with child protection organizations to know how to contribute and help on this terrible subject.” Demna continued.

Moreover, the brand announced that it would partner with the National Children’s Alliance, focusing on training and raising awareness for child abuse and protection.

Not only this, Balenciaga issued a lawsuit against production company North Six Inc and was seeking $25m in monetary damages. The court documents highlight that the defendants included the records of the Supreme Court case on child pornography without their knowledge and authorization.

This lawsuit has since been withdrawn.

The future of Balenciaga

Following on from their scandal, how does Balenciaga repair their reputation? Was Paris Fashion Week enough for them to boost themselves as a brand?

Vogue Business said the fashion house had “an excellent 2022, despite a difficult month in December.” Nevertheless, what will the future of the brand be?

Written By

Currently in 3rd year studying Multimedia Journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University

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