Hancock Park may never be the same. On a bright Saturday afternoon Balenciaga staged their pre-fall 2024 show on a closed-down street in the placid, leafy neighborhood that is typically the stomping ground for well-heeled Hollywood families. Today however, the wide, oak-lined streets saw different kind of heels—the ones that look like socks— traipsing down the asphalt, giving new meaning to street style.
For security, the exact show venue had been a secret to attendees, who were ferried from drop-off locations several blocks away. Given the snaking line of blacked-out SUVs, ear-pieced guards, and goth-glam outfits to match, the crowd looked less like they were gathered for a fashion show than the inauguration of a Transylvanian head of state. Security was lighter, however, for at least one show goer, a Hancock Park resident, who only had to walk out the front door to take a seat at the show.
Kim Kardashian, seated with sister Kendall, carried a leather tote crafted to look like a brown paper Erewhon shopping bag—an ur-L.A. vision—full of flowers, which she gave to Demna after the show. Natasha Lyonne wore an early-aughts-esque bubble gum pink velour hoodie, while newly-announced Balenciaga brand ambassador Nicole Kidman parted the sea of onlookers in a velvet dress with a sculpted bodice. Nicola Peltz and Brooklyn Beckham, Vittoria Ceretti (more accustomed to walking than sitting), and Lil Wayne could all be seen lining the front row. The guest of honor, however, was the Hollywood sign, perfectly positioned in the distance between the palms of South Windsor Boulevard.
The show began with a sonic jolt of techno laced with wellness-themed radio advertisements, promising nonsensical power and enlightenment. (One of the lyrics, which were all written by Demna and his husband/music director BFRND, intoned: “Welcome hungry souls to the realm of hungry stomachs.”) The collection offered a sardonic commentary on Angeleno style: stilettoed, oversized Ugg boots; thongs arching out of low-cut tracksuits; the aforementioned leather Erewhon bags, as well as coffee thermoses and reusable metal water bottles. Cardi B, clad in a cobalt furry coat, played the role of instantly-viral celebrity model; while Brigitte Nielsen, the former Helmut Newton model, was cast as the IYKYK fashion icon. When Balenciaga CEO Cedric Charbit stood up after the finale, indicating that everyone else could too, a few guests shouted “Encore!”
Heading west on Melrose after the show, it was hard not to notice all the same accessories and sartorial details that Balenciaga had just exaggerated to critical, and even comedic, effect. Even a tried-and-true European like Demna knows one cardinal rule about Los Angeles: Hollywood people love any show about Hollywood.