“Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd was a suitable soundtrack for Balmain’s spring/summer 2021 show at Paris Fashion Week. Power suits in flashy fluoro pink and yellow paraded down the catwalk, all amped-up Pagoda shoulders, subtly flared trousers and razor-sharp heels.
It was a vision of unashamed ’80s excess, not that much of the brand’s audience – social-media-savvy Gen-Zers - were alive the first time around. For them, there were monogrammed catsuits, transparent blouses and biker shorts, plus a Livestream of the show on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Facebook. A virtual front row, confined to their homes by the pandemic, was cast onto a bank of screens, including Jennifer Lopez, Anna Wintour, Alexa Chung and Kris Jenner, the matriarch of the family who arguably put the heritage house back on the map six years ago.
To close out the show, a slew of sparkles shimmied down the runway. There were sequin-clad cowl necks, blingy bandeaus and slinky, split-to-the-thigh skirts (the collection reportedly used nearly two million Swarovski crystals). Notably, models went barefoot for these final moments. Because this year, if you can’t go to the party, bring it to your lounge room.