Balenciaga’s Gvasalia: Oversize, It’s My Territory

December 10, 2019

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Demna Gvasalia is widely credited with popularizing anew blown-up proportions — to the point where Frankenstein shoulders and sleeves dangling past the fingertips invaded runways in all fashion capitals in recent years, not to mention the high street.

“Oversize, it’s my territory,” he said. “I definitely intend to defend what is my design territory.”

Big clothes are part of his personal fashion lore. Growing up poor in Soviet-era Georgia, he wore hand-me-downs from cousins who were five or six years older than him. New clothes were purchased in larger sizes to grow into. Hence, Gvasalia is like a fish out of water when he isn’t swimming in his clothes.

And that’s why he feels so at home in the house Cristóbal Balenciaga first opened in 1937 and helmed until his retirement in 1968. Among the most famous designs of the late Spanish-French couturier, prized for his spare and sculptural designs, are the cocoon coat, bubble skirt and semi-fit jacket.

“He worked on volumes first and foremost, and not decoration,” said Gvasalia, who in an early collection for Balenciaga transposed the flaring back of the semi-fit jacket into a black sweatshirt. “What I found at Balenciaga was kind of a gift for me. I found Cristóbal Balenciaga’s approach to volume was so perfectly suitable for me with my personal taste for volume.”