When guests arrived at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on Saturday night for the Balenciaga Spring 2022 show, they didn’t realize that they were actually a part of the spectacle. Everyone in attendance — not just Cardi B and Offset — was invited to stand in front of shouting photographers and ham it up like they were at the Oscars or a movie premiere. The Cut’s Cathy Horyn wrote that she gave her best “diva pose” in her Nike sneakers and jeans. Only later was it revealed that the red carpet was actually the runway, and that models were posing among civilians and celebrities wearing the new collection. The whole step-and-repeat was played back on the big screen inside to the audience’s great surprise and amusement. “I never laughed so much at a fashion show,” Horyn said.
It was all a cheeky comment on the hoopla of Fashion Week, and how each season seems to be less and less about the clothes on the runway and more about the experience of being there and sharing said experience on social media. It also seemed to be a meta-commentary on fashion’s tendency to fetishize quote-unquote real people. The show ended with a ten-minute Simpsons short-film in which Homer buys Marge a Balenciaga dress for her birthday. “I must rescue them,” says the cartoon version of designer Demna Gvasalia of the “style deprived” people of Springfield, adding later, “I want the world to see you real people in my show.”
Without getting too heady, the event was also just good old-fashioned fun. It served as a reminder that fashion has the power to make people feel nice and special, and that you don’t necessarily need to be wearing Balenciaga to look amazing (although it certainly doesn’t hurt). If anything, Fashion Week is a big game of dress-up, and the resulting images from Saturday night’s red carpet capture all the various characters in that world and their authentic, exuberant personal style — as well as the thrilling and slightly awkward sensation of putting yourself on display. Below, a roundup of some images that made us smile.