Pandemic-wise, with everyone locked up in their homes, it’s a realm of escape; and connecting with others—that’s only mushroomed in emotional significance. Which is where Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow comes in, constructed as Gvasalia’s projection into 2031—10 years hence, a gamified future where people will have battled through the anxieties of our present dark age to reach a better place. Armored with some Balenciaga fall 2021 medieval boots as they go.
“It’s about the comeback of youth—where nature and youth co-exist,” he says. “Kind of hallucinogenic. It starts in a Balenciaga store in a city center, which could be anywhere. People go to meet in different suburbs, an arty underground area. Then you go to a black forest, led by a white rabbit to an illegal rave. Like you see people have been having this year.” The future of clothing aesthetics, Gvasalia imagines, is the logical extension of what’s already happening amongst the climate-emergency aware generation. “People will keep wearing clothes they love until they fall apart. I do myself. So things look quite destroyed, worn in, pre-crinkled.”
For outdoor dancing in the cold, there’s the signature Balenciaga red puffer (a look he made his name with in his first season), adapted to skew off one shoulder. Or the option of a shaggy gray padded coat. “It’s made of shredded deadstock. We cannot do fur today—and thank god. This gives that drama, instead. And it’s really light and warm.”
It’s down into a cave next. Gvasalia swears this is not the same place of apocalyptic darkness he immersively evoked at his last Balenciaga show in March, where sinister black-clad people walked on black water under a burning sky. It was days before the world went into pandemic lockdown. “Some people called me prophetic after that. But fashion is a reflection of life,” he reasons. “We have been through dark times, but I don’t feel this darkness any more. I feel hope. More positivity than despair.” There’s a hoodie, printed varsity-style with the word FREE on it. “People want to get to the other side of this.”
In the gloom of the Afterworld cave, gamers will meet Eliza Douglas, Gvasalia’s emblematic Balenciaga model, dressed in armor as a modern-day Joan of Arc. “She takes a sword out of a stone, like in the myth of King Arthur. But she’s a modern-day pacifist warrior.” The high-heeled armored boots she wears are the opposite of virtual. Gvasalia had them made by a man in the
south of France who forges medieval armor. “It reminded me of how they make robots today,” he adds. “We’ve made some of them in softer leather. They’re going to be expensive. Limited.” Okay, yes: That’s going to trigger a crazy hit, all right.
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