Demna took Ye into the bowels of the earth for SS23

Day 4,786 of the SS23 fashion season and the end is in sight. Before editors pile onto the Eurostar though, there are still some big moments to be seen on the Paris catwalks, starting with one of the biggest moments of them all. That’s right kids: it’s time for Balenciaga. Didn’t catch the show? Don’t panic. Here’s your cheat sheet.

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…filled with receipts, coins, old bank notes, and credit cards – plus a cute pic of a fluffy kitten – all belonging to a person called Natalia Antunes. Who was this mysterious figure? Stay tuned. I spent the 45 minute ride from Pigalle to the venue messaging anyone with that name on Instagram.


The wallet that arrived in editors’ hotel rooms announced the arrival of the MUD show, and on arrival it became crystal clear as to why. On the outskirts of Paris, a huge cavernous venue had been filled with thick, dark, wet mud: the smell made you feel like you were entering the bowels of the earth, or Glastonbury after a pretty rainy few days (only thankfully sans the smell of shit from the portaloos). As we made our way around the treacherous pit and into our seats in near darkness, it was difficult to resist poking a finger into the gloopy piles to figure out whether they were real or not.


“I hate boxes and I hate labels and I hate being labelled and placed in a box. Society, the internet, and the world in general loves doing that, because it feels safe that way,” read the designer’s show notes this season, as he explained the need for “courage and persistence” in staying true to who you really are – both as a person and the way you show that through the way you present yourself to the world. “Fashion in its best case scenario should not need a story to be sold to someone. You either like it or you don’t,” they concluded. Story or not, something tells us Balenciaga’s sales won’t suffer should Demna not be offering up his inspiration every season. 


Demna and Ye have been friends and collaborators for a long time now, so really it felt like it was only a matter of time before Kanye made an appearance on the Balenciaga runway – particularly when the designer tapped mega stars including Kanye’s now ex-wife Kim Kardashian to walk his AW23 Haute Couture show back in June. Stomping out through the mud in a massive utilitarian coat, leather trousers, a hoodie, and cap, it was unclear whether he’d actually been styled for the occasion or just stormed out onto the runway in his own clothes because he felt like it. Either way, it was a big momenté for the house.


Models in enormous windbreakers and Woolf overcoats carried tiny bots in harnesses strapped to their chest for SS23, and since birth rates are dropping around the world because millennials and Gen-Z are too busy spending their cold hard cash on avocado toast and posh coffees, who else but one of the biggest designers of our generation to convince us all to push out a wee bébé. If you’re gonna do it, do it for fashion I guess?


…including a buttery leather tote that put the hand in handbag, slipping up the arm like a sleeve. Alongside this subversive little number a brand new ugly shoe was coming in hot, taking the form of a traditional Dutch clog. Slapping through the mud in a kaleidoscope of bold colours, a succession of them were even covered completely in glittering Swarovski crystals, creating a wild juxtaposition with the brown gloop on the ground.


The collection itself was Balenciaga business as usual, as Demna sent his usual hulking outerwear, JNCO-indebted mega jeans, and, on the flipside, his slinky second-skin gowns (which this season came covered in more crystals) out onto the catwalk. One standout was a series of heavily boned, traditional-looking corsets which male-presenting models wore with wide jeans and big boots or those aforementioned sparkly clogs. Strap in for SS23, boys.