an exclusive first look at the new (and very romantic) balenciaga campaign

Shot by a famous wedding photographer, the campaign stars real life, loved-up couples wandering the streets of Paris. Where else?

by Liam Hess
18 July 2019, 1:00pm

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Ever heard of Paris syndrome? It’s a condition, most common among Japanese tourists, that afflicts those visiting the city when realising it doesn’t quite match up to the expectations they’ve been sold, of stick-thin Chanel clad women and hunky intellectuals skipping through cobbled streets and quoting Sartre. Symptoms are said to include hallucinations, dizziness, anxiety and profuse sweating, all due to the overwhelming disappointment.

We have a feeling Demna Gvasalia might have heard of this phenomenon, anyway: for the latest Balenciaga campaign, it seems he’s subverting those classic, tourist-inspired clichés that surrounds the city. In particular, the misconception that it’s a rampant hotbed of unbridled romance, packed with brooding, literary Frenchmen with long hair snogging their girlfriends outside the Sorbonne, while women who look like Eva Green line the pavement cafes, smoking lipstick-stained Gauloises in a beret and seducing innocent passers-by.


Of course, the reality is somewhat different: hence, perhaps, why instead of going full stereotype, Demna has chosen instead to spotlight a series of couples who were cast for their real life romance. In a campaign, shot by Greg Finck -- a photographer mostly known for soft-focus, uber-romantic wedding snaps -- the loved-up couples are wearing a selection of the pieces from the collection inspired by Paris’s tourist kiosks, playfully riffing on the difference between Paris’ romantic place in the collective imagination versus its real-world existence as a living, breathing city.

While Balenciaga’s most recent collection, staged back in February, was perhaps less notable in the meme-worthy stakes -- platform crocs, there were not -- what stood out were the accessories inspired by the tourist tat you find on market stalls in the main thoroughfares of Paris. There were also bags that, at first glance, appeared to be brown paper supermarket shoppers, but up close were made from the finest leather and stamped with a logo for a Balenciaga-inspired grocery store. With one of the couples standing outside a streetside grocery store, it seems this vision of everyday living in the world’s most romantic city was sitting front and centre of Demna’s imagination this season. Paris, je t’aime.

Also accompanying the images is a video that looks like CCTV footage, showing a couple in the brand’s signature boxy outerwear enjoying a rendez-vous in an underground car park, directed by post-internet artist Ed Fornieles. They meet, they have a quick chat, they peck each other on the lips, and then they scram. It’s weird, it’s wacky, and it’s all very, very Balenciaga.


This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

demna gvasalia