He has set the fashion world on fire, and yet there’s a good chance you can’t say his name: Demna Gvasalia (pronounced DEEM-nah vas-AH-liyah). Learn it quick. As both the principle designer of Vetements and the new artistic director at Balenciaga, the 34-year-old Georgian (the country, not the state) has ascended, in just a few short seasons, from relative unknown to the most talked about tastemaker on both sides of the Atlantic.
The impact of Vetements, in particular, has been nothing short of seismic — especially on the street. Throughout fashion month, which just wrapped in the French capital, you couldn’t swing a Fendi bag without hitting an editor, stylist or blogger wearing the brand’s now-signature hooded sweatshirt. Hooked, too, are high-wattage celebrities Kim Kardashian, Rita Ora and Selena Gomez. Rihanna, never far from a trend, even stepped out last month in a head-to-toe ensemble from the label’s hot as-hell spring lineup. Not bad for an indie company that’s about as old as North West.
Vetements, named after the French word for clothing, was formed in early 2014 as a side project for a collective of seven designers who initially remained anonymous. Its first few seasons lured cool kids and a smattering of influential insiders to offbeat Parisian locales — an art gallery, a gay club’s basement, a kitschy Chinese restaurant — to see the clothes: clever de- and reconstructed riffs on sportswear basics with absurdly large proportions. Think post-normcore couture.
By the sophomore showing, Gvasalia — who studied at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts before stints at Maison Martin Margiela and Louis Vuitton — had been identified as the brand’s creative lead. Last fall he was tapped to replace Alexander Wang at Balenciaga. Last week, his debut collection for the storied house drew rave reviews. What now? Wish lists.