Masters of luxury streetwear, Balenciaga, make their END. debut.
Since his appointment to the house in 2015, taking the reigns from Alexander Wang, Demna Gvasalia's presence as Creative Director at Balenciaga has indisputably been felt most strongly through the label's menswear collections. Partly because Gvasalia introduced the label's menswear offering in 2016, leaving the waters of this category completely unmuddied by a slew of creative predecessors, and partly because you need only look at Demna's own flourishing label Vetements to see that Gvasalia understands how to perfectly balance contemporary culture references with high-brow design.
This ability to achieve a sense of confederacy between high and low culture references has become a crucial factor in the success of contemporary menswear labels and, although the intention is to make the output appear effortless and off the cuff, the creative process required to get there is anything but.
For AW17, Balenciaga's collection was littered with a post-millennial sense of irony, sitting in interminable flux between naive optimism and 21st-century despair. Gvasalia declared support for failed US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (the indisputable choice of American youth) with his appropriation of 'The Bern's' campaign logo. This satirical exploration of corporate branding continues as products are furnished with the Kering logo - the corporate parent company which bankrolls a plethora of the world's leading luxury houses including Balenciaga, Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Alexander McQueen.
The irreverent logo appropriation features most successfully on the premium tees and hooded sweatshirts, imbuing streetwear staples with a new signature design ethos. Crafted from the finest cotton in a loose-fitting style, the hoody features classic streetwear accents including dropped shoulders and a drawstring detail. Likewise, the Bernie Sanders iteration of the Balenciaga insignia features across a range of premium cotton-blend essentials.
The crisp white Balenciaga brand identifier features boldly across a range of knitwear and accessories. Notable pieces include the minimalist leather tote bag and intarsia knit scarf, each embodying the idea that premium accessories have style-defining potential to elevate otherwise simple outfits.
In terms of outerwear, the season's indisputable grail-piece is the Sanders-inspired satin bomber jacket which, despite the power of its underlying statement, is a tried and tested streetwear silhouette which will stand the test of time and trend in any copper's wardrobe for seasons to come.