Of all the ways fashion has addressed politics on the runway, Balenciaga's fall '17 men's showing was one of the most head-scratching: Last month, Demna Gvasalia presented a new logo for the French fashion house that bore quite the resemblance to the logo for Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. The politician-turned-designer-muse had yet to comment on the collection. (To be fair, he's been quite busy on the Hill.) But CNN's Jake Tapper wasn't going to let him leave State of the Union before getting the senator's thoughts on his unofficial runway turn. Tapper asked Sanders about the "bizarre sighting at Paris Fashion Week" of models wearing "Bernie clothes," which Sanders responded to with laughter — because how else would one react? When asked whether he thought he would ever be "a fashion icon," the Vermont senator gamely responded: "No, not quite. Of my many attributes, being a fashion maven is not one of them." We don't know, Bernie...Once Demna deems something cool, that's pretty much it. Watch the full interview, below.
This story was originally published on January 18, 2017.
As we prepare for the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump, most of the fashion industry's discourse has revolved around which designer will (and which definitely won't) be dressing the incoming FLOTUS for the inauguration. It seems the American political climate has had an effect on brands abroad, too. It's speculated that Melania Trump might look to designers from her native Europe for part of her White House wardrobe — however, judging from today's Men's Fashion Week showing in Paris, we're beginning to think that one particularly buzzy label might not make the cut. Balenciaga presented its fall '17 menswear collection, which established a "new set of proposals on the subject of corporate dressing," according to the show notes, as well as a modern interpretation of workwear. This meant tailored overcoats and two-piece suits alongside narrow trousers, roomy jackets, flannel shirts, and other utilitarian pieces. In line with this theme, the brand introduced two new "brand logo-texts" throughout the collection: one for Kering, its parent company, and one for Balenciaga. We're well-acquainted at this point with the luxury world's rediscovery of logomania. However, many were quick to point out that Balenciaga's new graphic was eerily similar to Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign logo.
Demna Gvasalia's reimagined Balenciaga logo features the brand name in bolded white font, underlined by three waves (two white, one red) and dated with the year "2017". Sanders' campaign graphic, meanwhile, read "Bernie" (with a star-dotted "i"), with two lines — one white or blue, one red — and "2016" underneath. Interesting.
Now, this could be simply interpreted as an honest tribute to the U.S. senator to Vermont. However, designer jackets that start at $825 and cap out at $2,500 (and are thus unattainable to most) don't feel like the most appropriate canvas to pay homage to Sanders, given his political beliefs. Regardless, this might signal that Gvasalia won't be lending his talents to the Trump administration anytime soon.