Our favourite dysfunctional family took a trip from their home on Evergreen Terrace to help out Balenciagas creative director Demna Gvasalia for Paris fashion week this year.
After a completely digital fashion week back in January, France opened things up to live audiences to cap off fashion month. The highlights were numerous. Dior showcased a brightly coloured runway in tribute to an iconic Milan nightclub, and there was an industry-wide honouring of the former Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz who sadly passed away this year. It’s fair to say that the kind-of-sort-of return to normal was a muse for the industry. However, despite the in-person offerings Balenciaga chose to tap into the animated series “The Simpsons” as their fashion medium. Once models, celebrities, and friends of the fashion house alike crossed the red-carpet style runway sporting the Spring 2022 collection, they were met with a 10-minute long Balenciaga-themed episode of the animated series inside the Théâtre du Châtelet. In the 32-years and counting that the show has been running, it’s hard to think of a setting where the Springfield residents haven’t ventured but modelling Balenciaga while an animated Anna Wintour sits front row is sure to be a first.
After discovering his wife Marge longs for a Balenciaga garment for her birthday, Homer sends the fashion house an email requesting the “cheapest thing with your label on it”. After a brief fling in a green dress, Marge reluctantly returns the piece back to Europe given its price tag of 19,000 Euros. An animated Demna Gvasalia is moved to tears by the lack of means, exclaiming “This is the saddest thing ever heard, and I grew up in the Soviet Union” (a crack he insisted stay in the episode). Finding pitiful inspiration from the residents of Springfield, Gvasalia invites the whole town to come to walk down the runway for Balenciaga in Paris. Everyone from police chief Wiggum to Bart Simpson struts their stuff down the runway wearing Balaneciaga designed based on outfits from the last 5 years. The episode is capped off with a final crack where Homer’s red puffer jacket is lit on fire by a smoking Frenchmen until Gvasalia attempts to put him out with a bottle of champagne which Homer would rather drink.
Despite the inside jokes typical of the show, Homer stuffs his face with escargot and fries backstage while Smithers can’t decide between women’s or men’s clothing, the short episode was a collaborative effort. The seeds were planted when Gvasalia sent creator Matt Groening an email back in April 2020 with the intention of working together. “I always loved the tongue-in-cheek humour, the romance and the charming naïveness of it,” claimed Gvasalia about the show in an NYTimes article. After a plot was decided on between the luxury fashion house and the production team, 15 different Balenciaga outfits were sent to the Simpsons crew for them to dress the characters in. The director of the episode, David Silverman, studied runway footage so that he and his team could find that “balance of caricature and the integrity of the clothing,” on characters that carry proportions far from runway models. Gvasalia not only supplied the fashion for the episode but had an active hand in the humour. At the last minute, he suggested they darken the colour of Anna Wintour’s single tear so that it was clearly visible on screen as well as insisting that there must be a final gag to close out the episode. All in all, it’s a 10-minute long well-dressed joke at the expense of the pretentiousness of the fashion industry and everyone involved was thrilled with the end result.
The collaborative episode with “The Simpsons” seems like a natural progression in Balenciaga’s recent efforts to merge luxury fashion into the mainstream while at the same time poking fun at the status quo. From Gvasalia acting as creative director for Kanye West’s Donda listening party to the Deepfake Spring-Summer runway show, the luxury fashion house has its finger on the contemporary fashion pulse while at the same time not taking its self too seriously. About the cross-over episode, Gvasalia claimed “I did not want to align anything or make sense of anything. I just wanted to create an iconic visual story.”. It’s safe to say mission accomplished.