There is an understanding in the fashion industry that if you leave a team of creatives unattended in a room, you’ll inevitably be handed a treatment for a fashion campaign where models wander the empty streets of a dystopic future alongside sentient trash bags, watching news broadcasters with prosthetic cheekbones speak Simlish to each other on the television.
At last year’s SS2020 runway, Balenciaga built the fantasy of a United Nations Embassy, where world leaders and diplomats and rich housewives and congressional staffers waltzed around with luxury handbags and incredibly wide shoulder pads. Their campaign for that collection, which premiered earlier this morning, was no different. What did I just say about leaving fashion creatives unattended with your ad budget?
If anything, the campaign accomplishes everything I already said about this collection—namely, moving the brand away from the trendy, Instagram-able silhouettes that defined Demna Gvasalia’s early run at Balenciaga. This collection is less concerned with how Dua Lipa might wear it at Up/Down, and more involved with Gvasalia’s clear anxiety about our extremely dystopic present.
This campaign was likely envisioned months ago, but I do think it’s important to mention its striking similarity to a recent TikTok trend, where people lip-sync to the sounds in songs, rather than the words. I’m not claiming that marketing executives at Balenciaga are trolling young people’s TikTok accounts for innovative takes on the fashion campaign format—merely, TikTok users are more creative than established fashion industry weirdos thinking up these campaigns for Balenciaga.
Regardless, if Balenciaga is still workshopping pitches for their resort campaign this summer, I’d like to pitch mine: The Simlish-speaking world leaders and news anchors and rich housewives and congressional staffers from this collection fail to stop the apocalypse. Instead, they build a giant ark, which they hope to survive on when the continents are flooded. Except, the last remaining iceberg on the planet strikes the ship while it cruises around the Arctic Circle. Everyone on board perishes, and the ship sinks to the bottom of the sea. Ten thousand years in the future, aliens find the abandoned planet and the sunken arc, on which there are hard drives containing all of humanity’s knowledge. They boot one up, click through the archaic file structure, and find that video of Katy Perry singing in Simlish, which they come to believe was an important historical moment for our species. It’s just a thought, though!