He’s been the name on everybody’s lips for the last four years; from bringing forth an underground “design collective” worn by an inner-circle that snuck its way into the Paris Fashion Week schedule to now reigning as the Creative Director of Cristobal Balenciaga’s design house working as Alexander Wang’s successor in 2015.
His name is Demna Gvasalia and you’ve probably heard of his label, it’s simply called Vetements (pronounced vêht-mohnt); That’s French for… Clothes. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s every front-rowers favourite cult label with a portfolio of wearers including Rihanna, Kanye West and Kendall Jenner – Not to mention the countless, influential K-POP artists who strut down the stage in prêt-à-porter pieces straight off the runway.
Let’s do a quick recap of how we’ve gotten to here – Class is now in session. Demna along with his brother Guram Gvasalia launched their brand onto the market during the Spring-Summer 2014 Paris Fashion Week schedule that bought us to that infamous $330USD+ DHL logo cotton t-shirt. A rather reasonable price to be charging for a t-shirt that had the fabric composition of 80% cotton and 20% polyester (made in Portugal, obviously), however were people willing to purchase this piece of almost basic garbage? You’re absolutely f*cking right they would. And in 2015, Vetements was one of the most hyped brands out – A symbol of status for some and a mockery for others. Vetements became a “you can’t sit with us” brand that everybody wanted to be in on.
Right up until 2015 fashion hit an extreme turn of events moving from the horrendous trend of sports luxe where the world grew insanely close to Alexander Wang’s “model-off-duty” essence and discovered possibly the most unconventional fabric in the name of fashion, neoprene. Sporting houses claimed their fame by designer collaborations with people from Opening Ceremony, Stella McCartney, Yohji Yamamoto and Riccardo Tisci – It was all about “activewear, but make it fashion”.
Meanwhile on the other side of the blogosphere, an intense infusion of black and white became present with the Scandinavain’s approach to new-age minimalism where acclaimed designers of the 90s slowly became relevant again; From Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, Narciso Rodriguez and the queen-of-clean Phoebe Philo quickly tapped into a new generation of cult followers. A series of unfortunate events including the death of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano’s career falling into turmoil and Christophe Decarnin exiting Balmain kept the industry as we know it quite suppressed however it remained stable and rather pedestrian.
In the beginning it took some teething but in due time we grew comfort with celebrity-turned-designer’s like Victoria Beckham and gave a warm welcome to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row. We saw the rise and fall of Zac Posen, we waved farewell to Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton and bonjour to Nicolas Ghesquière. In 2015, Frida Giannini stepped down from Gucci and the empire welcomed a man who’d been working behind the scenes at the company for years who’d lead the house – His name is Alessandro Michele and it didn’t take us long to fall in love with his vision for the iconic brand. In 2016 we said a big hello and opened our arms back to maximalism. The complete opposite of minimalism.
It’s no doubt that as maximalism started to become prominent once more, fashion itself started to become fun again. Reworked everyday wardrobe pieces, over-the-top accessories, bold and bright colour palettes soared down the runway that would eventually infuse into high street retailers and then theatrically started to appear everywhere. It’s been one hell of a ride!
With maximalism back in the forefront of design it did not come as a shock to the industry when Kerring appointed Demna Gvasalia as Creative Director at Balenciaga. The same way they did the shift between Giannini and Michele at Gucci, the brand completely shaped up from Wang’s monochromatic inferno and Gvasalia bought Cristobal’s house onto the street and introduced the brand to Vetements’ already high-profile of customers and followers.
Admittedly enough, everybody is a fan of Demna including myself although as season’s pass is Balenciaga slowly morphing into the vision of Vetements’? The question permits, how much longer are we going to let this continue?