High garbage! Balenciaga’s £1,500 bin bag

Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga has never shied away from controversy. This week the internet has been abuzz with criticism of the self-proclaimed “world’s most expensive trash bag,” which was first shown at Balenciaga’s AW22 catwalk show in March that Gvasalia dedicated to Ukrainian refugees. what was

The bag itself is a calf leather version of a regular black bin bag and is now on sale for $1,790 (around £1,500).

Balenciaga’s new handbag has been compared to a bin liner.

/ Balenciaga

In May, the fashion house faced similar controversy when it released its ‘ruined trainers’ – battered, muddled and falling apart – which sold for $1,850 (around £1,500). Gvasalia has moved beyond what should be in a bin and instead turned to the bin liner itself for inspiration, but she’s far from the first designer you might find in a tip.

I’m not talking about upcycling here. In London in particular, there is an impressive array of talented young designers pushing for sustainability within fashion: Helen Kirkham, Ahluwalia, Bethany Williams, Paulina Russo and Tulo Coker to name a few. But this article is not about them, nor is it about truly sustainable materials and practices. I’m talking about rot. Garbage, garbage, actual waste. Clothes that have been deliberately damaged. Garments that were once beautiful have been intentionally worn with a deeper meaning or purpose than anything else.

Backed by the grunge aesthetic, the nineties had a particular fascination for distressed clothing. Towards the turn of the decade, one designer put himself at the forefront of both our minds and our nostrils. Mold is generally avoided by most people (unless it’s a part of Stilton), but for Cypriot fashion designer Hossein Chalian, it was the goal of the game.

Models never know what they’re going to get at the Central Saint Martins graduate show. When Chalian showed his collection in 1993, I can’t imagine he was thrilled to find out he’d be strutting down the runway in worn-out, oxidized rags. Months earlier, Challan had buried his entire collection in a friend’s garden, only to discover it days before the final show. Titled ‘The Tangent Flows’, his ambition was to highlight the beauty in fall. To this day he is one of the most popular, innovative designers of London Fashion Week.

During the same year, Lee Alexander McQueen also showed his first fashion collection. Long before Balenciaga’s ‘trash pouch’, McQueen was carrying his stuff in bin bags. ‘Taxi Driver’ AW93 was his first post-graduation collection and was shown at the Ritz. After the show, McQueen and his friend Simon Ingles quickly put the entire collection into bin bags before heading to a party to celebrate editor Michael Roberts. Instead of paying the cloakroom fee, McQueen and Ungless decided to store the bin bags behind some trash cans on the side of the building. When they left the party, the bags had been stolen. None of this collection remains today.

McQueen was particularly fond of destroying his creations. Taking something perfect and tearing it apart, making it as ugly as it can be – in beautiful, mesmerizing ways. One of the most famous examples of this is his infamous ‘spray paint dress’, part of his Spring 1999 collection entitled ‘Numbers’. 13′. The only moment McQueen cried in one of his shows was when model and dancer Shalom Harlow walked between two mechanical arms that sprayed black and yellow mist over her white dress. He allowed robots to graffiti his collection and it became one of the most memorable moments in fashion show history.

Alexander McQueen and Shalom Harlow backstage at their Spring 1999 show

/ Alexander McQueen

Earlier, in 1998, Issey Miyake had a similar idea. Imagine a white, sleeveless, column dress. Now imagine burying it under explosives and lighting a match. That’s exactly what the Japanese designer did in 1998 when he teamed up with Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, who used gunpowder to burn images of dragons into the Pleats Please collection. It is a spectacle. Watchable If you haven’t seen it before (go to 6m 20). The pieces, charred with black, explosive shrapnel, are now worth around £3,000.

Burning also became a feature of Jeremy Scott’s Moschino AW16 collection – inspired by cigarettes, of course. Models including Anna Cleveland walked the runway as their dresses burned, smoke billowing from their skirts as the edges curled and burned. Of course, many of Scott’s Moschino collections include items that could be found in a bin, but for his AW17 collection he literally sent a model down the runway dressed in an American trash can. . Her black latex outfit was made to look like a bun liner, while her hat was (literally) a silver bun lid.

Moschino AW17

Personally, my favorite ‘Tracian’ story is by John Galliano, who showed his legendary Fallen Angels collection in 1985. Moments before the models walked the runway, Galliano made a snap decision that the shoes were too clean. He demanded that they all go outside and drag their shoes through the mud. Patrick Cox, who had put blood, sweat and tears into making the shoes, confronted Galliano about the decision: “Don’t worry, they’re more expensive now because it’s designer clay, honey,” was Galliano’s response. .

Whether it’s clothes from the trash or trash-inspired fashion, Balenciaga isn’t the first and won’t be the last to pick up trash. But, whether or not it’s a good idea to charge that much for an item inspired by and dedicated to people displaced by war remains a debate.