fashion

Balenciaga stages 'deepfake' fashion show with digital clones instead of models (oh, and stiletto Crocs)


If you were wondering what the future of fashion week might look like in a post-pandemic world, Demna Gvasalia’s ‘deepfake’ Spring 2022 Balenciaga show may have just provided us with some answers.

In what appeared to be a very deep and layered commentary on the world of social media and its impact on society, the presentation encouraged us to consider ‘our shifting senses of reality through the lens of technology’ and saw some seriously impressive editing skills create a runway that, in fact, did not happen. Not IRL, anyway.

And in an ironically meta way which almost epitomises Demna’s point entirely, the creative display ended up being shared and reposted to such an extent that it went viral on the very platforms it set out to scrutinise.

“We see our world through a filter—perfected, polished, conformed, photoshopped,” read the show notes. “We no longer decipher between unedited and altered, genuine and counterfeit, tangible and conceptual, fact and fiction, fake and deepfake. Technology creates alternate realities and identities, a world of digital clones.”


Of course, during a time in which international travel is difficult – at best – and illegal in certain instances, staging a fashion show virtually is a hugely practical solution.

While we no doubt miss Demna’s brilliant cast of models – which typically saw the likes of Bella Hadid walk alongside mechanical engineers and hotel cleaners of all ages and from all backgrounds – SS22 saw every look worn by Eliza Douglas, the artist who has opened or closed every one of Demna’s shows for the house. Only it wasn’t *actually* Eliza, with her face having been “photogrammetry-captured and CG-scanned” to create this series of digital clones.

But it wasn’t only the visual that was a high-tech consideration, with models (if we can call them that?) storming down the runway to a sci-fi-inspired soundtrack composed by BFRND and an AI voiceover reciting the lyrics of La Vie En Rose.

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In fact, the only thing that was real here was the collection. “It’s a show that never happened,” Demna told Vogue.com, “but the clothes are real, they were made.”

One of the most talked-about aspects of the collection came via The Hacker Project which is said to be Demna’s way of exploring “ideas of authenticity, counterfeiting, and appropriation within the fashion industry”.


The collection sees an array of ‘conceptual interpretations’ of Gucci‘s signatures which have been ‘stolen’ and reproduced the Balenciaga way – often with BBs instead of GGs and including limited edition bags which read: This Is Not a Gucci Bag – much like Gucci’s Alessandro Michele did with Balenciaga branding in his last collection.

Of course, this digital display also played host to the second – and much-anticipated – installment of Balenciaga’s collaboration Crocs.

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Unsurprisingly elevated, the new look sees the classic clog transformed into boots, platform pool slides and even stilettoed pumps which will no doubt thrill those of you who were worried about finding that balance between glamour and practicality post-lockdown.

For more from Glamour UK’s Fashion Editor Charlie Teather, follow her on Instagram @charlieteather.





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