The 36-year-old Georgian, now Balenciaga’s creative director, is bored of fashion as fantasy and has eschewed the tropes of Parisian glamour for flea market catwalks and crumpled styling. Where can he go next?
To understand what makes Demna Gvasalia the hottest designer in Paris right now, you first need to forget everything you think you know about Paris. Forget Catherine Deneuve, forget Jane Birkin, forget Françoise Hardy. Forget trenchcoats, silk blouses, ballet pumps and straw baskets. Forget Amélie in Montmartre and Carrie Bradshaw in Ladurée.
The Paris of Gvasalia, designer of Vetements and Balenciaga, is not that Paris. Instead, it is the Paris you might recognise if you were gripped by the latest series of gritty French police drama Spiral. It is the city we glimpse through the eyes of Louise, the nanny in Leïla Slimani’s novel Lullaby, when she makes the after-work journey from her employers’ chic 10th arrondissement home to her down-at-heel neighbourhood. It is a city of phone shops and fast food, a city where glamour means tight jeans and fake handbags, a city where background noise is a different language on every street corner, not a harmonious Édith Piaf soundtrack.