Demna Gvasalia and his team, which included his brother Guram, Lotta Volkova, and a number of close friends, adored and were accustomed to wearing a variety of everyday wearable, off-trend items. The unexpected twist that propelled the brand to worldwide notoriety in a matter of months was easy wear reinterpreted with a Vetements edge. Their ability to combine stiff lines and exaggeration with off-trend everyday streetwear aesthetics and pieces from thrift stores found on the streets was the secret to their success. Francois-Henri Pinault made the unexpected decision to select the designer to lead the legacy brand Balenciaga in October 2015. The move was well-received by the industry and helped the label’s financial results soar in little over two years. Demna is currently maintaining his image as a contemporary enfant terrible of luxury by reinterpreting both the house archives and M. Balenciaga’s originals in order to subvert the classics and develop his own fresh look. Eight quotations from his discussion with Loc Prigent during the session for the Vogue Paris Fashion Festival.
1. How does Demna Gvasalia define fashion?
Demna Gvasalia: “Fashion to me is a mirror, a reflexion of what’s going on around us. This is manifested in the collections. Daily life is what speaks to people, everyday life. They are Balenciaga archives transposed from the 1950s to today, adapted to 2018, 2019, to the future.”
2. How does he come up with his Balenciaga pieces?
Demna Gvasalia: “We always work by deconstructing something to create something else. That’s my general approach. Destruct to create. I think that’s vital.”
3. What does Demna Gvasalia wear?
Demna Gvasalia: “I don’t have that much choice, I either wear my own lines, Balenciaga or Vetements. If not then it’s vintage, I love used clothing, it tells a story. I’ve collected many items of clothing over the years, it’s my passion, something I’ve always done. It’s hard to wear things you’ve made yourself, we often envisage things on other people and not necesserily on ourselves.”
4. Why Vetements in the first place?
Demna Gvasalia: “The only response I can give is the same one I’ve been giving for years: frustration. This frustration I had with the industry, with my job as a designer. I was an executor, not a designer, I wanted to design and transmit my message. I didn’t want to just design for the sake of it, I wanted to establish a dialogue and use fashion as a communicative tool. Now at Balenciaga, I think we’ve established the fundamentals, to start and to continue to work the right way. We now work with other creative mediums of expression like communications and digital, this is a huge part of the success of the label.”
5. Why is collaboration a Vetements leitmotiv?
Demna Gvasalia: “Initially, Vetements didn’t have a good production base. I came up with the idea of using the expertise and experience of certain labels by asking them to collaborate with us: with our ideas and our way of working with their products. We would never have been able to create collections like these on our own.”
6. How does Demna Gvasalia select the models for his shows?
Demna Gvasalia: “These are people we look for all year round. People we scout on the street, who our friends, people close to us, and collaborators spot on the street, but also on Instagram.”
7. How does sportswear inspire Demna Gvasalia?
Demna Gvasalia: “I wouldn’t say it’s sportswear as such but rather the sportswear aesthetic. What interests me is this modernity of comfort, of functionality, of technicity. It’s become almost futuristic.”
8. Demnsa Gvasalia talks Balenciaga Crocs
Demna Gvasalia: “We were inspired by Crocs and we worked with them on a Balenciaga reinterpretation. Balenciaga x Crocs isn’t impossible, the question of taste is a very subjective value. We’ll see if this works in six months’ time in the stores. I wore Crocs this summer to see how I felt about them and they are the world’s comfiest shoes! I just wanted give to give them a fashionable touch: a platform. At the end of the day, fashion is all about having fun.”