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What Even was Balenciaga’s 2023 Paris Fashion Week Show?

While the womenswear looked great, you get more Quasimodo from the menswear than high fashion at Balenciaga's 2023 Paris Fashion Week show....

It was a show that was supposed to win audiences back, but after a very controversial few months, Balenciaga wasn’t in a position to ruffle any feathers at Paris Fashion Week. Instead, they went conservative and avoided theatrics, but the collection went so far in that direction that it emits the vibe of a chided dog caught with its tail between its legs. 

Perhaps it would’ve been a little on-the-nose if repentance were the main theme of the show, and if they took the religious route, could lead to even more controversy. But by not addressing their own controversy and avoiding controversy in general, the show lacked confidence which is seemingly exemplified by the hunchback/turtle shell designs in the menswear. 

What’s going on with those shoulder pads on those hoodies/jumpers? The shoulder pads on the dresses are fine, actually, maybe even the best part of the collection, but those men’s jackets and jumpers? They look like camels which isn’t helping the Quasimodo levels of shame being felt from the show. 

Even the Balenciaga’s coats and jackets, a usual high point, feel ragged and lazy, as if they quickly whipped something up from scraps. That isn’t what happened, a lot of thought and preparation go into these shows, especially for Paris Fashion Week, but laziness hardly Balenciaga’s main motif.

For the most part, these complaints refer to the menswear in the collection, the womenswear has some of the best pieces available and there’s little to complain about there. But the menswear, oh the menswear, what’s going on? If men wanted to look like aliens, they could’ve stuffed a balloon in their shirt themselves. At least they would have the option to pop the balloon once they came to their senses. 

A hunchback doesn’t scream confidence, in fact only the womenswear looks like anything you could wear with confidence. The wider shoulder pads are more in line with 80s business wear with a very gracious curve from neck to shoulder to provide that modern twist. It looks sleek, modern, and powerful. You could describe the menswear as sleek but powerful? No they look like a turtle trying to retreat into its shell. 

You could describe the whole show like that – Balenciaga trying to retreat into its shell, peeking its head out when it needs to, and retreating back to wait for the PR storm to ease. Can’t say that we blame them, but you can only be a top dog for so long before another challenger tries for your position and with Burberry generating plenty of curiosity and praise for their new direction, who knows where Balenciaga will be in the future? However, this could just as easily blow over until another house causes controversy. 


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