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Balenciaga’s recently-released womenswear campaign for SS18 is a complementary blend of the somewhat contradictory elements of modern fashion. Captured by the French paparazzi, the street-shot campaign showcases luxury alongside the casual; a blend reflective of the wider tendency in fashion at the moment for designer brands to opt for a ‘thrifted’ or ‘street’ look.

Following the collection’s success when presented in October, the campaign is an example of an innovative approach to the presentation of a collection. I say innovative because while the paparazzi-style shots may indeed be recollective of Kanye’s Yeezy Season 6 line released earlier this year, which used paparazzi-inspired shots of Kim Kardashian wearing the collection in a crude and misjudged reference to the couple’s own fame and influence, the execution and intention behind Balenciaga’s campaign is much more effective.

“Balenciaga deliver a masterclass in artistic and effective marketing, one which further highlights the amateur attempts of West last season”

Balenciaga captures the essence of the collection, something that Kanye missed in the perfectly curated shots of his wife. In comparable contrast, here the models hold up bags to shield their faces and the rushed, genuine shots highlight the interesting textures and materials used, and pinpoint the sharp pops of colour in the head-to-toe Balenciaga ‘street-styled’ outfits.

It is this sense of chaos in the shots that gives the clothes an artful poignancy; the images are ‘perfectly imperfect’, reflecting the balance of punk and elegance interwoven in the collection itself. The refined and elegant design of the garments is accentuated by the sense of movement in the shots, and the presence of the chaotic paparazzi holding bulky cameras. Even the bodyguards of the ‘models’, whose positioning in the shots appears natural, highlight the pieces; guiding arms provide compositional balance and their monochromatic dress gives the collection a neutral backdrop against which it can stand out. Balenciaga deliver a masterclass in artistic and effective marketing, one which further highlights the amateur attempts of West last season.

Balenciaga Women Spring Summer 18. Collection available now online and in stores.

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Balenciaga have cleverly made a statement about modern culture, one that speaks through the garments. There is an urgency to the garments that hit a particular zeitgeist of culture including tights and shirts that feature a money print, seemingly alluding to the expense of high fashion itself in addition to the money driven culture of modern Western society. Perhaps the vintage feel of the pieces even plays on the movement towards a ‘cashless society’, where the vintage print of the bank note perhaps reflects the vintage idea. It hardly goes without mentioning the significance of the notes being Euros, another way in which designers are drawing inspiration from the ever-turbulent political landscape.

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The collection is notable for the use of print and colour, from a newspaper print shirt to the abundance of variously coloured plaid in trousers, jackets and dresses. The hits of colour are accentuated by the street-style feel of the shots – on the plain and urban Parisian streets the bold pieces take on a life of their own. From the shocking pink bag to the red studded heels, stylist Lotta Volkova Adam creates a collection defined by pinpoints of colour.

A blend of the traditional and classic with the modern, not to mention the punkish twists, the collection is a reminder of how fashion is always part of an artful interplay with politics and wider culture and society. This is as true now as it was of the punk era in the Sixties. That the campaign has effectively inspired such reflections is evidential of the power of artistic credibility combined with commercial success. The latest Balenciaga campaign is, like West’s Yeezy Season 6, a telling reflection of the celebrity culture we live in today, a much more effective and seamless reflection.

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I find the way that those in the creative industry reflect upon the society around them and to which they contribute inherently fascinating. The collection embodies themes such as consumerism, an interesting comment when fashion bears such a strong relationship with the phenomenon, in addition to referencing capitalism, and contemporary political debates from the state of the European Union to allusions to the class politics that increasingly divides our modern society. The price tag may well be high, but the ideational accessibility of the latest Balenciaga collection is undoubtable

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