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Avenue George V was Cristóbal Balenciaga’s first home, the House makes a prodigal return to its roots after dropping its couturier title 55 years ago.

To know Balenciaga is to know the French house’s origin of haute couture. While the Maison momentarily shifted away from its fine dressmaking in favour of commercial prêt-à-porter, 2021 saw creative director Demna return the House to its roots. As the House expands its physical couture quarters at the iconic Avenue George V — a space helmed by Cristóbal Balenciaga as office, runway, and home — the question of couture’s longevity is begged: will history repeat itself?

After all, the fashion industry relies exclusively on the pillars of brand growth, sales, and clout. Would there then be space for couture to coexist, much less thrive? The Avenue George V site itself is constructed with intentionality. Modernised finishes are incorporated without dramatically overwriting the House’s heritage.

Clear considerations of past, present, and future are observed, as original stucco arabesques and carpets are patinated to replication, while futurism is indicated by Demna-signature darkness (in the shape of smoked glass cabinetry). The expansion welcomes couture clients and hosts atelier activities for the brand, signalling an upper-level approval for the revived subdivision.

Yet, to question the intentionality behind the couture venture is to understand the industry player that is theatrics. The recent Fall ’23 couture collection was widely discussed — perhaps partly for the enduring discourse of its 2022 scandal — but more so for the show’s closing look: a 3D-printed, chrome armour gown. Like a metaphor for Balenciaga’s reverence for then and now, the gown was reflective in underscoring its sensibilities for new-age craftsmanship that exalts a historic dressmaking past.

Digitally, it was “Another Cool Age Thing”. But in an age where social currency reigns supreme, Balenciaga’s “cool thing” crown earns it just enough capital to cement its spot among Gen Z favourites. Regardless of how Balenciaga’s trompe l’oeil jeans sell, its amped-up couture homecoming signposts a new revenue stream: online fanfare.

This article was first seen on Men’sFolio.com

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