Balenciaga released its Pre-Fall 2023 collections just in time for those looks to reach stores. Through staged photographs meant to look like fitting room selfies, the brand shows off some relatively safe and familiar looks while inviting consumers to come to the stores and shop for clothes. The brand attempts to move forward with its first official collection since stirring up controversy last November and does so safely and carefully by providing a taste of their signature style.
In November of 2022, Balenciaga released two adverts for their holiday gift shop and their Spring 2023 collection. These two adverts both contained props that critics condemned for their inherent sexualization of children. Following the backlash both Balenciaga and Creative Director, Demna released statements apologizing and announced their steps forward to mitigate damage.
Since then, the brand has remained relatively quiet until now, with the release of Pre-Fall 2023. This collection stays true to the identity of the brand, featuring the boxy, oversized tailoring we know Balenciaga for.
Of course, they went on to make some exciting innovations to this style. Layering padded jackets and shirts, cropping peacoats and trench coats, turning puffer jackets into flared statement pieces, and just reimagining the shape of some otherwise familiar items. The collection also played with denim of wide and slim proportions, tucked hems, and lots of big eyewear.
The women’s and men’s collections felt like they went in two different directions. The women’s collection showed us an avant-garde elegance with its long skirts, form fitting dresses, and knee-high boots combined with leisurewear. On the other side, the menswear leaned more heavily into the casual side, giving us lots of cropped sweatshirts, big denim, and puffer jackets rounded out with a pair of slides.
Overall Balenciaga Pre-Fall 2023 felt like a calculated safe and wearable collection. That being said, it has still received mixed reviews from fans. Some fan concern stems from Demna’s interview with Vogue following the controversy last year where he said, “I have decided to go back to my roots in fashion as well as to the roots of Balenciaga, which is making quality clothes—not making image or buzz”.
Fans are concerned that this collection means Demna’s return to roots will be him recycling old ideas and playing things too safe. As a counterpoint, Balenciaga pre-season shows are usually dedicated to daily wear and therefore it makes sense as to why this collection is tame, plus this collection was released in stores simultaneously to the runway collection. As it stands, it is too early to tell what the direction for the brand and Demna will be, and hopefully their next collection will give us a clear picture as to what we can expect out of the future of Balenciaga.