Demna has a (nik) knack for turning trash into treasure. Having hawked a soiled shoe, a bin bag, and Crocs as luxury accoutrements, the designer spent the last weekend using an empty bag of Lays as a purse – sitting front row at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts’ graduate fashion show with the greasy accessoire perched on his lap, or otherwise hooked under his arm as if it were a gorgeous clutch.
With Balenciaga’s couture show around the corner, the possibility of a Lays collaboration doesn’t seem out of the question, but, at this point, it does feel a little obvious. People like Demna and Jeremy Scott have been playing with the codes and symbols of consumerism for years, fashioning entire collections from McDonald’sor DHL insignia. What’s different here, though, is that this isn’t some calfskin derivative or tote bag-remake, it’s just a big ole, crinkly packet of ready salted crisps.
So maybe it’s not so much that Demna is turning trash into treasure, as much as he is just turning out trash – which is perhaps the climax of all these ironic subversions of luxury, anyway. “It’s the elevation of the mundane into a new context,” the designer explained after his AW22 show, which featured Kim Kardashian encased in rolls of caution tape. “You don’t need Balenciaga clothes to wear that look, you just need the tape. It’s funny to dress up without clothes.” In Demna’s mind, just about anything can be read as fashion, with the ugliest and most normal of items often engendering the most desire.
As predicted, the comments section under the now-viral TikTok reflect all the confusion and outrage that Demna has become synonymous with. “Balenciaga have just decided to see how much they can mock the people who buy from them,” an anonymous account named beyonceisaverageatbest wrote – a common response from people who like to level a particular brand of inverse snobbery against fashion fans. But, as Demna has said in the past, his work is not intended “to be ‘understood’ by the average social media critique” and nor does he care.