Harmony Korine Brings ‘90s Nostalgia to Balenciaga’s Fall 22 Show
This morning, Balenciaga’s Fall 22 show The Lost Tape, dropped ahead of the traditional fashion week schedule. Shot by Harmony Korine, the digital presentation was meant to look like a VHS recording (physical invitations were sent in the form of tapes, though it’s unclear what was on them—no one has a VHS player). Beginning with a backstage-slash-arrivals segment chocked full of French chit-chat, cigarette smoke, hairspray, and OG supermodels, including Naomi Campbell and Esther Cañadas, Balenciaga delivered FashionTV nostalgia so on-point that even Diane Pernet and her opulent headdress could be spotted in the crowd.
Even the tented runway composed of dirt was reminiscent of the industry’s past glories, like when the shows in New York were hosted in Bryant Park, and when, in 1989, Margiela dragged fashion insiders to the outskirts of Paris for a haphazard showcase of deconstructed garments on the playground of a graffiti-littered school. I wasn’t around for either of those events, but in an era when “archival” fashion is often favored over new collections, and accessible at the swipe of a finger, looking to the past is just as appealing as following the entertainment-fueled industry of the present. Balenciaga understands this better than most, and is not only feeding into this nostalgia, but also a widespread belief that, thanks to social media, anyone can be a critic these days. This is made clear on their Fall ‘22 homepage, where show notes, reserved for the press by most brands, were made available to the masses.
“The Balenciaga Fall 22 presentation comes in the form of a message from the past about what could have been and never was,” they read. “It recalls a time when clothing that was alive with raw ideas—anti-fashion, deconstruction, and monochromatic minimalism—could be found anywhere from an industry spectacle to the active underground.”
The show may have included deconstructed garments, though I have a difficult time referring to anything that Balenciaga creative director Demna (who’s dropping his last name, Ye-style) puts out as minimal, even if the collection was mostly black. Yet this show felt different from the house’s recent collections, which tend not to evolve drastically season by season. Maybe it was the choppy video, or the backstage energy, but the garments seemed more authentically gritty—more alive. Slouchy leather boots harkened back to Ghesquiere’s time at Balenciaga, while Demna’s signature sharp shoulders seemed to be elongated in favor of a more severe, ’80s-inspired silhouette. Puffer jackets and t-shirts were present, but as whole, the collection felt mature—as if diehard ’90s ravers were trying to dress their age without abandoning the subculture altogether. Like Pernet stated in her show review on the website: “It’s so elegant but casual. It’s like…wow. A dream!”