On Sunday, moments after Balenciaga staged the first fashion show at the New York Stock Exchange, three men wearing distinctly boxy suits that weren’t Balenciaga stood under a cluster of screens displaying fake real-world listing numbers. smiling from ear to ear. In the ear. According to the screens created as a backdrop for the parade, everything was collapsing. They’re also sinking in real life, but the men were celebrating, high fives, as if they’d just landed a lucrative deal on behalf of clients.
“Everyone agrees that this is great for the brand,” one NYSE director told another.
Despite the public being barred from the trading floor facility since September 11, 2001, the trading mecca allowed Balenciaga to generate the perma-zeit spirit of lightning in a bottle: it generated $2.3 billion in revenue in 2021 and produced steady production. headlines by dressing KimYe through her public divorce, to create a track that curved through clusters of commercial terminals in the beating heart of American capitalism.
“Let me ask you a question,” said one of the executives from the parent company that owns the stock exchange, gesturing to the fashion show attendees surrounding us.
“Who…are All these people?”
Who were all these people at the fashion show? They broke down evenly, into quarters. The first quarter saw the brand’s clients, decked out in now-iconic Balenciaga rags, combining dynamic logo appropriation with the world’s best tailoring to create self-aware clothing that’s dystopian enough to reflect the dangers of modern life and, shall we say, the new extremes created by climate calamity. The second quarter was made up of fashion magazine envoys, which, I mean, guilty. The third group consisted of extremely famous musicians, the most famous of whom was KanyeWest, who joined Frank Ocean, J Balvin, Megan Thee Stallion, Pusha T, Payaso slipknot, dev hynes also known as blood orange, Make up for, and more. Ultimately, the crowd was a quarter of artists: artists who aren’t normally thrilled to attend fashion shows, artists who show both in giant galleries in New York’s Chelsea and London’s Mayfair and in smaller, scruffy galleries in Tribeca and Berlin.
And the artists were a force. Balenciaga’s show attracted more artists than any other fashion boondoggle he has ever witnessed, even the ones who get inches into Artforum.
MoMA curator stuart eat spoke with the director of LUMA Simon Castets and the artist Jill Mulleady, while artist and dealer emily Sunblad sitting in a swivel chair near the entrance. curator of the Venice Biennale Cecilia germans he was there, along with at least three artists he put on his show: dora Budor, Ana Levy, Y Jacqueline Humphries, who came dressed in a hot pink Balenciaga dress.
Anna-Sophie Berger, who has a show at JTT a few blocks north, chatted with the esteemed cultural critic Dean kissing, and artist based on photography Daniel Arnold, having a show at Larrie’s on Orchard Street, shadowed Interview editor Mel Ottenberg, snapping away Jordan Barce, owner of Tribeca’s Theta gallery, wandered around looking for Pink marcus, who was taking phone photos of the terminals for future work, while Joseph Kline he took photographs of the plaques put up in the 1940s to honor merchants who died in World War II.
This outpouring of support is a testament to Balenciaga’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia, the typically mononymous sage who was handpicked by the CEO of Kering Francois-Henri Pinault to take over the storied brand after his former line, Vetements, became an underground sensation loved by fashion insiders. Other designers may occasionally work with the art world, but Demna brings in artists as his closest collaborators, and thus makes clothing conceptual enough that artists really want to wear to them.
This is not new to him. I was in Paris for fashion week in October 2015, and while all the usual shows took up big spots in single-digit boroughs (Dior was right next to the Louvre), Demna’s Vetements show attracted brand connoisseurs fancy and kanye west, Travis Scott, and Virgil Abloh at Le Président, a dingy Chinese restaurant in Belleville, where all the trendy art galleries are concentrated.
The first look of that show, and it was a defining moment, featured a hat emblazoned with the DHL shipping company logo, the first time under the Vetements umbrella that Demna would treat other brands in the same way. richard prince he treats the Marlboro ads, appropriating them with glee, taking something and making it his without a care in the world.
Since taking over Balenciaga shortly after that show, Demna has sought out artists to collaborate with in an informal but crucial way. As of May 2018, Balenciaga’s Instagram has removed all text or context from her feed and replaced it with captions. Wolfgang Tillmann–photos in the style of random things, and connoisseurs of the art world would notice yours among those that appear: the artist stewart wow, or the artist nora turatoTaco’s dog. The artist kayode eye shot for the brand page and introduced its distributor at that time, current director of 52 Walker ebony haynes.
The brand declined to comment at the time; according to then GQ writer Rachel Tashjianthe artists in the shots said they signed confidentiality agreements.
As the minutes ticked down to the noon start time, Wall Street became an impromptu step-and-repeat for fans, with four-quarters of the crowd mingling before entering. Ana in the yard he came with his trafficker, Daniel Buchholz, while your partner eliza Douglas, I was already inside ready to walk. Mayor Eric adams arrived. Alex Israel approached dap briefly pharrell, that he had been telling his crew that bagasse Jacobs, standing next to him with her husband, Char defrancesco, it was the first person who tied him to haute couture in 2004.
They were approached by CeCe wow, the fashion leader on TikTok, as Defrancesco held aloft a gold money pistol and tossed the counterfeit bills Balenciaga handed out to each guest in a plume of smoke into the air as he plunged into a full-body twerk.
“Now, that is a TikTok,” Jacobs told Vu, taking a giant hit from his vaporizer.
Stock exchange clerks ushered guests into a waiting room and then through a bewildering series of anterooms, until, to their surprise, there it was, the trading pit. Closed to the public for 20 years, one of the most famous and photographed financial places was now open to a group of people who would never have chosen to go there given the chance. A writer asked me if this was the current stock market or just a set built by the brand, and for a second, I wasn’t sure. I googled it and the image was the same. We were there. I think.
After Balenciaga employees dressed as runners ushered us to our seats, the “opening bell” rang and monitors began buzzing and displaying fake stock numbers for Disney, Twitter and IBM. The Balenciaga show had begun. Suddenly rumbling thunder from a soundtrack by BFRND, the musician, who is also Demna’s husband, filled the room and, sure enough, the artist Douglas walked the catwalk first. Not that anyone could tell it was her. Douglas, and all subsequent models, wore a mask, an echo dating back to last September, when Demna donned the world’s most recognizable woman, kim kardashian, in a mask to attend the Met Gala. As the strains of a techno banger turned the money-making bastion into an American Berghain, models in power suits clutching Sharpie-scrawled Starbucks cups strutted down the aisle like they were late for work at their bank. They were part of a collection Demna calls “Garde-Robe,” which is separate from the brand’s ready-to-wear and slightly more upscale; Later in the show, Demna presented a second collection, a collaboration with Adidas, featuring the Balenciaga logo below the brand’s iconic three stripes.
Like all parades, it was all over in about 10 minutes. Then, wearing a mask of her own design, Demna came out for a quick salute.
The after party that night, just a 10-minute walk but a world away from the financial district, was at 88 Palace, a dim sum joint under the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown. gavin brown he used to have his Christmas parties there, before his gallery closed. I arrived shortly after 9:00 to find many of the same people from the show having drinks with glow-in-the-dark plastic ice cubes. A very young non-Googleable man passing by Lësterr he was humming into a microphone.
Demna, maskless now, gloriously bearded, and downright ecstatic, sat watching Lësterr with Amanda Lepore. I told him that I had been following the brand since before the Balenciaga glow and had been there for the Vetements show at Le Président in Paris.
“I always go back to Chinese restaurants, right?” she said, gesturing toward the dim sum room. “I found this place and I thought it was perfect, but I guess it was already done as a place, right?”
I told him how Brown had thrown parties here, which didn’t make it a new place, and instead of disappointment, Demna seemed elated that he wasn’t the first to make a discovery.