Come to a screening said the invite. So, we all turned up expecting to see another fashion film. After pushing through throngs of hysterical celebrity spotting kids, we were ushered onto a red carpet for an arrivals photo. Huh? We’re fashion hacks not celebs, but we are game for a laugh.
After the step and repeat formalities, we took our seats in the cinema where the red-carpet shenanigans were projected onto a big screen. The people-watching was delicious. You could see every pore. There was Mel Ottenberg posing with his plastic shopping bag and water bottle, and Bryan Boy in a full look (was he warned?). Then suddenly a girl arrived wearing a huge black lace crinoline gown, looking like a goth infanta. It was look No.1, the show had begun even though half the audience were still posing on the fake red carpet. A girl in a silver leather hooded cape dress swept the carpet, a boy in Matrix shades and a double-breasted black suit.
To make things even more confusing real celebrities started to turn up in full Balenciaga looks. Cardi B and Offset, Isabelle Huppert, Elliot Page and Anna Wintour; were they in the show too? (Cardi and Anna were not but the rest were). The lines between real, and fake, show and showbiz were completely, hilariously blurred, and that was the point. This was not catwalk business as usual but a new kind of witty spectacle shared by fashion insiders and the general public who thronged to get a glimpse of their favourite stars.
This was fashion as entertainment and the looks kept coming – mostly black with exaggerated shoulders, oversized puffer jackets and dagger-sharp heels – 64 in total, nearly 90% of which were made with sustainable materials. Then a figure dressed as a shadow took the carpet. It was Demna Gvasalia who had exploded the traditional catwalk and turned it into a delirious meta experience. He wasn’t done yet. Taking his place next to Kering owner Francois Henri Pinault, Cardi and Offset, he settled down to watch the main feature: a 10-minute Balenciaga x The Simpsons episode, in which Demna flies our favourite Springfield characters to Paris to star in his latest fashion show. This was more than a fashion event. It felt like a new era for fashion shows, ushering in a new pact between the watchers and the watched.
Photography courtesy of Balenciaga.