FROW submerged in water, fire, darkness, the end! While fashion is grasping for sustainability and coronavirus is sending us all (and Fashion Week attendees) into a frenzy, Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga confronted us with the dark reality of climate change on its Autumn/Winter 2020 runway.

What does the end look like to a designer? Just as chaotic as chic. Last season, we were taken to the EU’s oh-so-blue headquarters and this time, Gvasalia gripped our world – outside politics, yet again, placing a reflective mirror front and centre.

Balenciaga AW20

Set at the Cité du Cinema film studio complex in Paris, our reflection was raw and omnious. While models sloshed on the water-logged runway, inferno skies, doomy crows and rising sea levels played on the LED ceiling, a scene not too far from our reality.

Not even the FROW was excused from the waterworks as the first two rows were completely underwater or, at least, they looked like they were – it was only a few centimetres deep (fashion and its illusions, right?). The immersive experience, however, probably made up for being a little further away from the action. Though you could say the show’s theatrics were wasteful, Balenciaga calmed hearts by announcing its plans to return the water to Paris and donate the chairs to a children’s sports center. Hopefully not the wet ones.

As for the clothes, we have seen the darkest show, possibly ever. It was black. All black. Very, very black. And before we had time to wonder whether it could get any gloomier, we were shown exaggerated, supervillain-esque power shoulders and models wearing hellish reds complete with black contact lenses. Strutting in water, we were presented outfits that wouldn’t be out of place in The Matrix and rubber footwear.

Balenciaga AW20

But, you see, in all of the gloom and doom, there was a slight bit of optimism. A hope for the future, if you will. Sequins, colours, florals – emphasised with the backdrop of pitch black.

Balenciaga AW20

It’s as if Gvasalia looked to the future… straight to Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, to be exact, where the house will make its return to schedule after five long decades. The question everyone’s asking: did we just get a taste of what’s to come?

Photos: Jason Lloyd-Evans and Instagram