IIt was the highlight of Paris Fashion Week. Balenciaga got the podium debut of Homer and Marge Simpson, accompanied by Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Justin Bieber joined Anna Wintour to applaud from the front row.
A fashion week crowd who arrived at the Théâtre du Chatelet awaiting a parade were entertained, instead, with a special 10-minute episode of The Simpsons in which the people of Springfield traveled to Paris to tread the Balenciaga podium.
The cartoon poked fun at the house’s oversized shoulder pads (Marge got stuck in a door in her dream dress) and the costs (Homer nearly passed out when he saw the $ 19,000 prize for the dress). Homer developed a taste for snails in garlic butter and began to wear a single dangling earring and don his puffa style jacket.
Creative director Demna Gvasalia’s instinct that her guests would prefer an episode of The Simpsons to a traditional runway show was the most daring symbol of a tangible change felt during this first Parisian fashion week to return to the live format.
The red-rope elitism that fashion weeks around the world have relied on to protect their status seems old-fashioned in an age that yearns for inclusiveness. As the company tries to come together and bond after 18 months of distance and isolation, the most avant-garde elements in fashion strive to reflect that mood.
At Valentino, each model walked a loop of an indoor venue filled with industry guests, then continued on their way to the open air, where the catwalk spanned the cobblestone streets of the Marais, so fans de Valentino and the fashion students who gathered to see the arriving guests and models were treated to a front row view of the collection.
Likewise, the Chloé footbridge was staged on a bank of the Seine, positioned so that a neighboring bridge offered an observation platform to a large crowd of Parisians.
Balenciaga’s collaboration with The Simpsons, which teased the design team by pouting, smoking, French snaps of Emily-in-Paris, and showed Homer struggling to pronounce the The brand’s name (“Is this Balenciagaga?”) was the most eye-catching example of an industry realizing it might be time to ditch the pump.
The episode was also a dream come true for Gvasalia, a Simpsons fan since childhood in the former Soviet Union.
The cartoon was only half of the immersive pop-cultural experience that was the Balenciaga show. The screening was preceded by red carpet arrivals, during which guests including Cardi B, model Amber Valletta and photographer Juergen Teller were photographed by paparazzi in Balenciaga’s new collection as they walked through the red carpet outside the theater in front of screaming crowds. Audiences seated inside saw the clothes on a 20-minute live broadcast of the arrivals on the red carpet instead of showing them off on a runway.
The clothes were the classics of modern Balenciaga, all XXL puffa style jackets and pointy shoulders. Cardi B wore a dress printed with gossip magazine covers. But it was less about new season clothing and more about a whole new era of fashion as entertainment.