Balenciaga releases a new photography campaign that rejects pretentiousness to embrace simplicity.

By Balthazar Malevolent


The campaign features accessories from the Fall 2020 collection with photography by Chris Maggio. The compositions seem almost confrontationally simple: a model holds a bag or a shoe and sits in front of a white backdrop at a gray table, while a block of text floating above their head reads "Balenciaga" and the piece's name. The stars inhabit a curious emotional realm; they seem almost existentially irritated to have to pose for the shot, gazing accusatorially into the frame. The outcome almost feels like an anti-campaign, an indictment of the superficiality of the marketing fashion process.

Taken with the video forming the other piece of the Autumn 2020 campaign, this commentary seems to be especially complex. There is a striking contrast between those images and the film. While the film tries to make a meaningful emotional connection with its viewers without using words, the simplistic imagery and text here feel cold and detached. Is Balenciaga poking fun at its huge internet stans army, ready to swallow any item bearing its name? And may they point out to the hypocrisy behind their industry peers' recent pattern of performative allyship?

Whatever the purpose behind that strange contrast, its effect is what matters. All aspects of the campaign are successful on their own, and together they indicate a fascinating dialog about the brand's position – Balenciaga or something else – in how we view and interpret contemporary culture and its issues.

Several designers who started at Cristóbal Balenciaga's would go on with opening their own later-famous couture houses, notably Andre Courreges, Emanuel Ungaro, Oscar de la Renta but his most prominent and well-known protege was Hubert de Givenchy, who was the lone designer side by side with Balenciaga against the Parisian Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and also the press over the scheduling of his shows.

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