Balenciaga “Hacks” Back Gucci for Its Latest Collection

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Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2022
Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2022Courtesy of Balenciaga

Following Gucci’s internet-breaking collection, which saw Gucci “hack” Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia has returned the favour for Spring/Summer 2022, via “a deep fake of a fashion show”

In April, Gucci marked its 100th birthday with an unusual, and unprecedented, fashion show: entitled Aria, the live-streamed event saw Alessandro Michele “hack” the codes of Balenciaga, mining creative director Demna Gvasalia’s “nonconformist rigour” as well as the “sexual tension” of his Gucci forebear, Tom Ford. Yesterday, Gvasalia returned the favour with his Spring/Summer 2022 collection – a tongue-in-cheek hack-back of Gucci’s codes, logo-prints and colour palettes, which explored “shifting senses of reality through the lens of technology.”

Gvasalia’s technology-inspired “deep fake of a fashion show” arrives at a particularly pertinent moment when, over the past year in particular, our lives have become ever more digitised. To illustrate the concept that “we no longer decipher between unedited and altered, fact and  fiction,” the collection was modelled by an army of clones of artist and Balenicaga muse, Eliza Douglas, which were created using both deepfakes and CG-scanned versions of her face, which were then digitally grafted onto models.

In a film directed by Quentin Deronzier – which used planar tracking, rotoscoping, machine learning, and 3D modelling to achieve the final product – this hyper-realistic procession of ‘Douglases’ marched down a minimal catwalk in Gvasalia’s S/S22 designs, as an eerie AI rendition of La vie en rose composed by BFRND played overhead. 

This digitally-meta world extended to the clothes, too – which saw everything from a sweatshirt featuring the Simpsons wearing last season’s designs, and graphic prints mimicking computer icons, to replica Tesco shopping bags and one Divine-inspired ball gown. Meanwhile, exploring and questioning “ideas of authenticity, counterfeiting, and appropriation within the fashion industry”, clothes from the Hacker Project saw Gucci’s hallmark double-G intarsia logo print playfully swapped for double-Bs, while elsewhere Gvasalia riffed on Gucci’s tone-on-tone palette, and a series of Gucci bags were spray painted with the words, “This Is Not a Gucci Bag.”

Speaking to Michele over DM in April, in a conversation that saw the designers reflect on this first ‘hacking’ show, Gvasalia said: “For me this is pretty much the magic of fashion ... it’s giving a new life and transforming one idea into another that is so exciting and creatively motivating.”