Balenciaga Vs Yeezy: Cynicism, clones and cultural clout
A great day for us oogle-eyed fashion stans (read fuckers) Balenciaga’s Spring 2018 latest campaign was drip fed via social media earlier today, a cluster of paparazzi style images featuring; Stella Tennant, Dipti Sharma, Kennah Lau, Marjitta Nissinen, Eliza Douglas, Christine Willis, Alek Wek, Raphaele Godin and her son had us refreshing our insta on the hour to see the latest image cleverly pushing demi-god Demna’s latest accessories above all.
If you’re thinking, wait, this sounds rather familiar, you’re right….Yeezy Season 6, was launched in an eerily similar manner back in December 2017 and somewhat coincidentally, the second phase of the campaign also rolled out today as Balenciaga did, this time the Yeezy collection featured insta-influencers Amina Blue, Abigail Ratchford, Sarah Snyder (not to mention, ironically Paris Hilton) as Kim K doppelgängers or rather clones in shots that duplicated the first campaign, gang gang, very gang indeed! The similarity between the two campaigns reared the now Demna synonymous question, is this guy fashion’s biggest meme-lord?
It could be argued that the new Balencianga/Vetements modus operandi is to ceaselessly hold up a mirror to fashion, mocking both industry and the culture for our rampant consumerism and inability to think autonomously, rather many of our contemporaries tend to make fashion decisions based on the clout-o-meter. However, lately it seems unashamedly biting or shall we say ‘repurposing’ creative ideas are occurring more often at the brand, see Diet Prada for specific instances, yet they get a pass under the guise of meme-culture, being tongue-in-cheek anatagonisers, millennials after all are responsible for 50% of their sales and now make up 65% of the customer base, a customer base well versed in meme-ry.
The problem with this however, is it makes the brand impervious to criticism, hiding behind a cloak of irony and cynicism. As such do we sometimes not end up giving credit where it’s not due, in this instance, some have lauded the Balenciaga campaign as a satirical take on Yeezy Season 6, critiquing celebrity culture and social of the West’s perhaps? At this point is it even possible to tell, with a brand that has ridden (admittedly their own) meme-wave all the way to the bank, simply by being cynical. Is it clever to steal a month-old idea and regurgitate it, as meme-critique ‘’because its Balenciaga, its Demna, if you don’t get it man…’’ but, its thinly veiled clickbait gaining traction is its purpose either way? If the Balenciaga campaign were really to be a meme it would be ‘Can I Copy Your Homework’ except the teacher thinks Demna is too smart to copy.
The paparazzi fashion campaign is not a new idea created by DONDA granted but neither is cynicism, “Cultural cynicism is not a new artistic point of view, equivalent to the others it spends its time and energy refuting. It’s pseudo-culture, and as such it is empty and derivative in a way that real points of view, of all kinds, never are”. Some of us are ready for fashion, art, culture that is designed, curated and delivered in earnest. We want to grow, tell us what you like not what you hate.
Words by Daniel Strange