This article first appeared in Harper’s Bazaar Singapore, the leading fashion glossy on the best of style, beauty, design, travel and the arts. Go to harpersbazaar.com.sg and follow @harpersbazaarsg on Instagram; harpersbazaarsingapore on Facebook. The April 2022 issue is out on newsstands now.
SINGAPORE – In this day and age of information overload and product oversaturation, great clothes are just the starting point for designers who truly want to stand out.
To make a real, resonant impact – not just commercially, but also culturally – designers have to produce works imbued with not just smarts, but also heart.
Some do it by turning sleeping beauties and dusty brands into the industry’s most exciting, most-watched names – like Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli and Casey Cadwallader at Mugler.
Others infiltrate every aspect of the culture compellingly, like Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga. And then there are those who build a luxury brand unlike any other – think Jonathan Anderson and his idiosyncratic and soulful Loewe.
In the past year, Demna has demonstrated a breadth of vision that is simply stunning.
First, the Georgian designer conquered the highest echelon of fashion with a spectacular revival of Balenciaga’s haute couture. His follow-up, though, was as accessible as it gets: a collaboration with American rapper Kanye West’s Yeezy and fast fashion label Gap.
He has managed to tap the lucrative and considerable gamer community – first with a virtual-reality game to present his fall 2021 collection and then with a partnership with online video game Fortnite, through which products both virtual and physical were released.
Shortly after that, in September, Gvasalia and Balenciaga dominated the Met Gala, arguably fashion’s most elite event, by dressing boldfaced names such as singer Rihanna and reality television star Kim Kardashian.
Less than a month later, Gvasalia upended the traditional fashion show and won Paris Fashion Week through a partnership with one of pop culture’s biggest and most enduring brands, the animated series The Simpsons.
Disparate as all these ventures sound on paper, in Gvasalia’s vision, they are all cohesive parts of one grand scheme.
As he told The New York Times: “My mission is to give people the best ingredients I can to create their own character and have fun with it. That’s what fashion is about.”
Like Gvasalia, Anderson is building a brand in a 360-degree manner. His approach is to place craft at the nexus of his every undertaking at Loewe.
It is why the brand can convincingly go from collaborations with the estates of textile designers William Morris and CFA Voysey to partnerships with the likes of Japanese animation film studio Studio Ghibli.