Balenciaga's Creative Director 3rd Designer To Say Fashion Moves Too Fast
First Raf Simons, then Alber Elbaz, and now Demna Gvasalia. The newly appointed Creative Director at Balenciaga (and long time designer at Vetements) hasn’t even debuted his first collection with the legendary French house, but he’s already got something to say about the industry – it’s too fast, and much like Simons and Elbaz before him, he advocates that creativity and creation need time.
In a profile with Miles Socha for WWD, Gvasalia covers everything from his design philosophy, his growth under Maison Martin Margiela and a Marc Jacobs-commandeered Louis Vuitton, and his plan to “further evolve the DNA of [Balenciaga] and, together with the team, write a new chapter in its history.” But it’s not necessarily the Georgian designer’s incredibly compelling sartorial past that dominates the WWD piece. Rather, the focus on his statements on the fashion industry’s need for speed.
“I’m not really sure if the market actually demands all those clothes,” Gvasalia says, referring to the dizzying amount of collections a house – particularly one with a pedigree like Balenciaga – needs to put out per year. “You know we deliver winter in July; it doesn’t make any sense…It’s just so confused that I feel something needs to happen to find a new mechanism or system to work because it is a lot of money wasted as well, on development, on selling things we don’t really need.”
And while Elbaz and Simons both released similar statements on how the industry’s fast-paced demand has a direct conflict with creativity, Gvasalia’s addition on consumption cuts like an overpriced Wusthof knife. “Fashion used to create a dream: People used to dream about an amazing dress that they will probably never wear in their life, but that created an idea and an illusion,” says Gvasalia. “Now it is much more about product, and much more about somebody wanting to have it or wear it.”
In an age where the Internet constantly tells us that we’re not good enough unless we’re up to date in trends and activities (when did we all start venerating sameness?), it seems like the equilibrium of capitalism – of supply and demand – has been completely skewed. We’re more obsessed with keeping up with the Kardashians more than we were ever obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses, and because of this the demand for everything from fashion collections to new Apple products, better parties at better clubs, and our favorite artists’ new music (people cyber-hound Kanye and Rih every day demanding the release of their new albums), it seems that Gvasalia is wondering what a lot of us also wonder: can we ever be satisfied?
It’s interesting, then, that Balenciaga–a house that, with the hire of the mega-famous Alexander Wang, seemed to greatly value fame–would choose somebody so… simplistic. Gvasalia’s design philosophy is quite similar to his mentor’s, Martin Margiela, where the basic principle is quality over quantity, redirecting “fashion based on garments and wardrobe-building rather than seasonal themes or narratives,” as WWD says. Perhaps Balenciaga is getting back to it’s roots; both Cristóbal Balenciaga and Wang’s predecessor, Nicolas Ghesquiére, were more craftsmen than showmen.
So what will happen to fashion? With the departure of two key players from their key positions at key houses, and more people being vocal about the ridiculous pace and demand, will it slow down? Or will the creative forces be displaced, one by one? Only time will tell. For now, we hope that Gvasalia’s, Elbaz’s and Simons’ statements will at least permeate fashion consumers’ consciousness.
Photos via Yahoo Style, The Guardian, Vogue UK, and Visual Magazine