On Saturday, Dec. 2, the luxury Parisian fashion brand Balenciaga, helmed by artistic director Demna since 2015, dropped down in L.A. to show its fall 2024 men’s and women’s collections on a stretch of palm tree-lined Windsor Boulevard near 5th Street in Los Angeles’ Windsor Square neighborhood, with the Hollywood sign as a backdrop. Helicopters and drones buzzed in the air and locals took in the entertainment from their balconies in the residential neighborhood-turned-runway for a day.
Among the starry crowd were newly announced brand ambassador Nicole Kidman, Salma Hayek Pinault (arriving with husband François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of luxury fashion group Kering, which owns Balenciaga), Cole Sprouse (donning the brand’s viral $925 towel skirt), Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kim Kardashian with sister Kendall Jenner, Joey King, Lisa Rinna with daughters Amelia Gray and Delilah Belle Hamlin, Lil Wayne, Storm Reid, Tinashe, Brooklyn Beckham with wife Nicola Peltz, Natasha Lyonne, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Sennott, Samara Weaving, Taylor Zakhar Perez and Meghann Fahy.
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Many out-of-town guests donned edgy black ensembles, looking out of their element in the sunny surroundings. An exception was Hayek, who stood out in a Balenciaga L.B.D. accessorized with a Barbie-pink chain-handle handbag and pumps. As did her sister-in-law, the L.A.-based jewelry designer Daniela Villegas, wearing a yellow top, fuchsia skirt and vibrantly patterned yellow ankle boots.
“I’m going to get out of the sun, because I’m going to get sunburnt!” Kidman (wearing a black velvet long-sleeved Balenciaga dress with gloves) told THR as she hustled to her seat.
In a brand statement on her new ambassadorship, Kidman said, “Balenciaga has been with me through some of the most memorable events in my life, from my wedding to the Oscars red carpet.” (Her Balenciaga wedding gown, worn in 2006 when she married Keith Urban, was custom-made by then-creative director Nicholas Ghesquiere). In November, Balenciaga enrolled Michelle Yeoh as another ambassador.
The Balenciaga fall fashion show invitation arrived as a weighty silver sculpture in the form of an energy bar that read “Collection Balenciaga F24%” also printed with the date and “Los Angeles” — hinting at the parade of edgy-cool sweat sets and accessories, such as yoga mats and gym bags, that comprised the first portion of the collection. The occasion also marked a collaboration between Balenciaga and Erewhon (the trendy, upscale L.A.-centric gourmet food market) including a charcoal juice drink available in stores, logo tote bags, thermal cups and more.
Front and center was Kardashian, who modeled for the brand’s summer 2024 lookbook and has long championed the label (despite a brief falling out over a controversial 2022 ad campaign that featured children with harness-adorned, plush teddy bear bags).
Posing with Jenner, Kardashian showcased the no-pants trend in a black lace version of the brand’s famed Pantaleggings with attached heels (that she has been rocking since they debuted in 2022) along with a zip-front Balenciaga Beverly Hills hoodie and Erewhon collab leather shopping tote, filled with flowers and destined to be the next “It” bag.
“The collection was amazing! I loved all the sweat stuff in the beginning,” said Kardashian, referencing the athleisurewear — standouts were the cropped hoodies with matching low-rise sweats, exposed G-strings, and a stilettoed boot that called to mind a high pair of streamlined Uggs on steroids. “It was very, very L.A.!”
Peltz also had her eyes on the sweat sets: “It was amazing. The energy was incredible. I love that they did it in L.A. It felt so L.A. and, in my mind, I was just like ‘I want to wear that. I want to get those sweats!’ It was so cool. We really enjoyed it.”
Beckham told THR that the Balenciaga statement sneaker (super-sized in the show to cartoon-like proportions) was his favorite item on the runway: “I loved the big shoes!”
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 2, 2023
The brand’s meticulously sharp tailoring was showcased in co-ed jackets with exaggeratedly amplified proportions. Ellis Ross arrived in one such blown-up black blazer with mega-bold shoulders, paired with a black maxi skirt and a large Monaco chain bag.
“It was so iconically L.A. on every level,” Rinna told THR. “It could not have been any more L.A. And I will say, when someone went by with the prosthetic lips, I leaned over to my daughter and I said, ‘Those lips are bigger than mine!’ And she goes, ‘Mom, they’re prosthetic!’ I had no idea.”
Last, but not least, was a line-up of red carpet-ready Hollywood gowns that ranged from clean-lined and volumized, with dramatic architectural cuts, to sparkly and sequined va-va-voom to a series of one-shoulder draped dresses with dreamy trailing trains. All underlined the beautiful precision of Demna’s cutting.
Then, the surprise appearance of Cardi B on the runway showcased how to top it all off with an arresting, floor-skimming cobalt blue faux fur coat. (The rapper, who name checks Balenciaga in her song, “I Like It” and became a face of the brand in 2020, hosted a late-night after-party in celebration of the brand’s debut L.A. show.) Also making a surprise appearance on the street-turned-runway was statuesque actress and model Brigitte Nielsen.
“What I love about Demna and the Balenciaga team is they have a great sense of humor,” said Hollywood fashion stylist Jessica Paster. “What I loved about the actual collection was that it was all about Los Angeles: the workout, the yoga, athleisure at its best. I love that they even brought back a take on the Juicy Couture sweatsuits that we used to wear in the 2000s. And there were a few dresses that I just love for awards season that I’m definitely going to be requesting for Miss Emily Blunt!”
The background music was a rolling loop of kitschy, upbeat faux advertisements for an array of magical lifestyle elixirs and imagined businesses (like a coffee and steam shop). Demna has rolled out Balenciaga Music, from soundtracks to merchandise, as an integral part of the brand.
Fahy, also wearing a pair of Balenciaga Pantaleggings, told THR that she appreciated the creativity of the soundtrack (written by Demna and his husband/music director BFRND) and that she enjoyed the show. “I thought the setting was pretty incredible just in the middle of these palms, broad daylight, in a residential area. It’s my first fashion show in L.A. and my first Balenciaga show. I’m so happy to be here. I think some of their styles are so iconic!”
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 2, 2023
Balenciaga recently doubled down on its Southern California footprint. A two-story boutique opened at South Coast Plaza in October, and September marked the unveiling of a second 6,000-square-foot Beverly Hills boutique at 418 N. Rodeo Drive dedicated to women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, while the original location at 318 N. Rodeo Drive is now focused on menswear.
Given the fashion industry’s synergy with entertainment, Los Angeles has become a runway hot spot for luxury designers of late. Chanel and Versace staged runway shows in Los Angeles earlier this year, while Ralph Lauren, Celine, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent have all shown collections in Southern California in recent years.
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