Balenciaga Spring 2025: High, Tall and Oversize

Demna‘s first runway show in Shanghai naturally came with a twist. This time, it was pouring rain that somehow only lasted for the duration of the show.

However, the summer shower helped add drama — or what Demna called “uncontrolled poetry” — to the show.

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When everyone, including celebrities such as Michelle Yeoh, Sophie Marceau, Liu Haoran, Chris Lee and Yang Chaoyue, realized that the rain would not stop anytime soon, some continued to play dodge while others simply threw away their umbrellas and embraced the wet look that came straight from the runway.

As the brand’s third destination show after New York and Los Angeles, the coed spring 2025 collection was staged on an elevated walkway at Shanghai’s Museum of Art Pudong, an architectural marvel designed by Jean Nouvel and the latest addition to Shanghai’s futuristic skyline.

As models powered through a hazy elevated walkway under the “good fortune” rain, all the key Demna elements were highly visible: the ultra-oversize fits; the comically oversize sneakers; the subversive streetwear; the elegant ballgowns with unorthodox details, such as tromp d’oeil feather made from recycled plastic; a gold foil bubble dress, and a ballgown lined with earrings, necklaces and locks, which was seen on Ming Xi, the Chinese model turned socialite.

Several models, as well as the Thailand star and brand ambassador PP Krit Amnuaydechkorn, came stomping out in eight-inch leather platform boots, coupled with a super elongated silhouette, were meant to echo the high rises that compete for attention along the Pudong waterfront.

“Stretching silhouettes vertically as much as I could — I think I’ve never done such tall and vertical silhouettes, [it was like] the surroundings that we are in, which is the whole Pudong area,” Demna explained in a media scrum after the show.

“I’ve never been to China before, so the image of China in my eyes is based on the visuals that I’ve seen, which is very high and very tall, very endless,” he added.

Even though Demna said he didn’t make literal references to Shanghai or its famous street-style scene, multiple looks on the runway hinted at style signifiers often seen on the streets of the city. There’s the mysterious Chinese woman with her old-fashioned perm, classy trenchcoat or pussy-bow dresses; there’s the stone-faced cool kid clutching leather shoe boxes, and not to be overlooked is the cute “rich baby girl” in a loose baby doll dress, among other downtown archetypes.

“I just like silhouettes,” Demna said of his mental process. “There is really no intellectualizing behind it. I’ve made this selection on a very instinctive level of what I like, what excites me, what creates desire on me, to create a new equilibrium between different parts of my aesthetic.”

American sportswear brand Under Armour also got the Balenciaga treatment, with its overlapping arch logomark stacked against the Balenciaga one and imposed on zip-up hoodies. Rendered in black and red, the capsule featured oversize sweats, sock shoes and more. Several items are already available online, with a full collection dropping later this year.

Balenciaga x Under Armour
Balenciaga x Under Armour

What stole the show was a deconstructed “bag lady” look seen on Du Juan, and a tromp d’oeil feather gown made out of pink recycled plastic bags, which the brand said are a decade old, seen on its muse, Eliza Douglas.

A collaboration with China’s leading online payment platform Alipay also made its way into the collection. Easily written off as a normal merchandise-driven gimmick, the T-shirt was labeled by Chinese netizens as “one of the best references to Chinese-styled consumerism.” The 4,700 renminbi, or $661, mainland China-only item already went live on Tmall, WeChat Mini Program, and in selected stores.

Balenciaga x Alipay
Balenciaga x Alipay

Behind Balenciaga’s giant spectacle is the Kering-owned luxury maison’s ambition to break new grounds in the Chinese market, which includes opening new stores and upgrading existing ones.

A four-story stand-alone store will be unveiled at Beijing’s Sanlitun Taikoo Li, while another large-scale flagship, at HKRI Taikoo Hui in Shanghai, still currently under construction, has already become selfie Mecca for the brand’s legion of fans.

Last November Balenciaga’s MixC store in Shenzhen relocated to the first floor and was expanded and upgraded to its “raw architecture” format. The brand can now be found in 24 first- and second-tier cities in mainland China.

Perhaps the language of commodity, which strongly resonates with China’s new rich, will continue to drive Balenciaga’s growth story in China.

A sidebar collaboration with Nan Xiang Mu Dou, a Shanghainese steamed bun eatery, even featured an ancient Chinese money-shaped “win-win cake,” further perpetuating the message.

The creative director’s trip also became a Chinese social media sensation, with videos of him visiting a pet shop and styling a VIP customer circulating around the internet like wildfire.

In Demna’s own words, direct communication has always been a part of his vision for the brand. “What I believe in is bringing what I do, my vision to the people that I appreciate and that consume, and China is that place for me,” the designer said.

Launch Gallery: A Preview Look at Balenciaga Spring 2025 Ready-to-Wear Collection in Shanghai

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