Gvasalia Tackles Censorship in FW19 Vetements Presentation

By Taraneh Azar, Runway Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Vogue Runway

Vetements creative director Demna Gvasalia just brought Vetements back from the ashes by doing what he does best: being a complete and absolute joke. Not just any joke though—the power of Vetements to tackle government censorship and political instability through virtually meme-like imagery makes Vetements the most artfully pointed pseudo-joke of 2019 (thus far).

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As an army of models trod down the runway, presumably on their way to some trance show, Vetements is resurrected after a year of boring and repetitive presentations. The young cousin of Balenciaga took our Gen-Z consumer selves by storm in 2014, creating a culture of fashion appreciation with heavy sarcasm and silent admiration. And with a surge of 20-year-olds willing and ready to buy $2,000 sweatshirts (only after Kanye West, Rihanna and Lorde brought the label to the forefront of hypewear) with their parents’ credit cards, Gvasalia finds himself in the ideal socio-cultural landscape for him to play his tricks.

The show opens with zoo animals in a museum-esque setting providing a backdrop for the presentation, and a printed turtleneck reading:

“Warning!!: What you are about to witness will disturb you. Even shock you. There is a dark side of humanity the censors won’t let you see…but we will. View at your own risk.”

And so it begins.

The presentation invoked anarchy in the face of censorship, resistance in the face of an era and generation largely left to be political pawns throughout with painful self-awareness as highlighted by Gvasalia’s meme-like choices in taking direct blows at the label.

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At times sentiment was more engaging than stylistic direction as Gvasalia repeated many trends of the past year. Form-fitting sock-like-shoes reminiscent of Vivienne Westwood’s famous animal toe boots which have since been replicated by the likes of Celine and Margiela, among others, were featured and the chunky trainers resurfaced with no end in sight.

Baggy sweatshirts and stiff, structured shoulders were all present throughout the collection, among other usual suspects such as logo-printed socks and oddly-placed pinstripe button-downs [SEE LOOK 19].

While balaclavas were all the rage this past year with Calvin Klein 205W39NYC’s f/w 18’s utilization of the long-hailed utilitarian staple, making its way from hikers and runners to the fashion kids of 2018, Gvasalia highlighted a switch to full-on ski-masks.

Kurt Cobain was even represented  as colored hair, a baggy cardigan and a t-shirt reading “Corporate Magazines Still Suck (A Lot!)” appeared, reconstructing one of Cobain’s signature looks featured on the cover of Rolling Stone in ‘92. With a variation of Cobain’s notable “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” t-shirt, the irony flooded in as, aside from WWD, Vogue.com is one of the only places to source images from the show.

The presentation closed with six looks, faces veiled and completely cloaked in heavy fabrics, delicate laces and extending latex hoods, book-ending the theme of censorship in the digital age.

In an age of threatened net-neutrality looming over the heads of global citizen more now than ever before, coupled with government censorship and political lies defining social and cultural landscapes worldwide, Gvasalia tackles issues on the daily menu with stark self awareness and sarcastic satire galore. Here’s to 2019!