In a year that had labels reimagining fashion presentations as childhood pastimes (think: Dior’s dolls, Moschino’s marionettes, and Loewe’s paper cutouts), Balenciaga took the trend to new heights. This weekend, the French label released Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, a bespoke video game created by Unreal Engine, to serve as a showcase for its fall 2021 collection.
Designer Demna Gvasalia envisioned a mythological, space-age adventure set in the year 2031 that has players exploring five levels, from the brand’s virtual store to a dark forest and a picturesque mountaintop at sunset. The 50 avatars are all dressed in neo-medieval style reminiscent of Raised by Wolves and the trailer for the upcoming Dune film, both of which showcase future worlds that have deteriorated as a result of political unrest and climate change.
For fall 2021, Gvasalia is proposing mutable garments that help players navigate the rough terrain. A parka, for example, transforms into a duffel bag; a blanket turns into a hooded cape; a scooter lap apron becomes a thermal wrap coat; and suits are made of mesh-lined stretch materials suited for sports. Many of them were made of upcycled materials. The most distinct pieces, however, are the silver or gold boots that are intended to look like medieval armor and are worn under Gvasalia’s signature voluminous toppers or deconstructed dresses.
“There was a whole study of authentic aging treatments for most of the garments,” Gvasalia told WWD. “I believe the sustainable and smart consumption in the future will encourage us to wear our clothes until they fall apart and decay, so this collection is full of clothes that look old, somewhat worn in and pretty destroyed.”
Imagining a dystopian society is not new to Gvasalia; the designer has consistently used his runway presentations to comment on the environment and political instability. But with Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, he is opening up this messaging to the masses, allowing all to experience an imaginative universe that, without systemic change, may very well become our reality.
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