On July 5th, Balenciaga presents its 52nd Couture Collection, marking Demna’s third collection for the esteemed fashion house. The show takes place at the elegant salons of 10 avenue George V and features a unique musical score, as BFRND reworks Maria Callas’ operas into an unprecedented a capella format. Through collaboration with a sound engineer and the use of AI programs, Callas’ isolated vocals are transformed into a sonic couture experience.
The collection begins with an homage to the past, as the first look reinterprets an original design by Cristóbal Balenciaga. This iconic ensemble, previously worn by Danielle Slavik, the couturier’s preferred model from 1964-1968, holds sentimental value as her favorite piece. Even Grace Kelly was captivated by its charm and acquired it for her 40th birthday celebration in Monaco. The reimagined dress, adorned with velvet flowers and an integrated pearl necklace, beautifully bridges the gap between past and present with its mirrored construct.
Architectural tailoring takes center stage, featuring sharp shoulders, curved-V necklines inspired by the hemlines of Balenciaga’s original tailored jackets, and defined waists. For menswear, suits exude an air of Prince of Wales check or pinstriped wool, although the actual textile used is Japanese denim woven on antique looms.
Trompe l’œil techniques emerge as a modern tribute to traditional materials. Hand-painted linen canvas panels are meticulously assembled into garments, creating the illusion of fur coats or denim and leather trousers. Houndstooth and python textures are replicated, while blazers showcase the intricate detailing of buttons and lapels. Underneath these artistic applications, the garments maintain a streamlined structure, with all dimensions meticulously added through oil paint brushstrokes, a process that can require up to 280 hours to complete.
Structure transcends the two-dimensional realm as wool outerwear, cotton trench coats, and cashmere scarves are meticulously cut and fortified to convey an impression of windblown movement, even in moments of stillness. This remarkable effect is achieved through two full days of hand-sculpting, incorporating a knitted, bonded liner that strengthens the external fabric.
The collection reaches its grand finale with exquisite eveningwear. Taffeta garments acquire voluminous body, moving away from the shoulder, while a bespoke treatment creates a liquid, plasticized effect, draping garments in a mesmerizing spiral around the torso. One standout piece, a bustier dress, boasts an astonishing 10,000 crystals, with each 3D-printed resin stone setting individually applied—an endeavor requiring 900 hours of meticulous craftsmanship. Swiss guipure lace, enlarged and woven chainmail, and sequin-sewn filigrees serve as the foundation for the collection’s impeccable artistry and dedication to craftsmanship.
The show culminates with a breathtaking finale dress featuring CAD-designed, 3D-printed armor and galvanized resin, meticulously polished in chrome and lined with black flock—reminiscent of a precious jewelry box. This rigid and reflective masterpiece embodies a temporal crossroads, merging classical techniques with cutting-edge advancements. It also represents a new reality, where perfection is pursued through the fusion of technology and the essential human component of dressmaking.