Updated: Aug 23
Demna Gvasalia, the Georgian creative director of Vetements and designer for Balenciaga - who’s famously “ugly” designs peppered with irony and humor have risen to the highest ranks of social media fame - chose McDonald’s on the Champs-Elysees to present the Vetements SS20 collection during Paris Fashion Week.
Demna Gvasalia and his brother Guram launched Vetements (French for “clothing) in 2014, collaborating with designers from Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Maison Margiela. And despite being stuffed into fast food booths and served McDonalds/Vetements co-branded milkshakes and drinks, the media is raving.
Capitalism and Milkshakes.
Most news outlets that covered the show are nodding their heads in agreement over the designer’s bravado in exposing the exploitation of capitalism, one would guess perhaps, in response to the model who wore a modified McDonald's uniform with a name tag reading: 'Capitalism!', while still winking at the €500 price tags on the model carrying fries. Oversized re-designed security guard uniforms, re-purposed denim, and 80’s business casual looks dominated “lines at the register.” Logos from other famous brands like Heineken, PlayStation, Planet Hollywood and Internet Explorer were slightly modified, mostly playing with words like “Internet Ecstasy”
Condoms for invites.
The invitations arrived as black or pink, Vetements branded condoms. Keeping with an apathetic if not aggressive tone, notes for the collection were printed on McDonald’s napkins, and McDonald’s drink cups were stamped with the Vetements logo. Never a break in indifference, just as Vetements young, rebellious target
Georgia boasts the worlds best McDonald's. So that's something.
It’s worth noting that Batumi, Georgia is home to what is said to be, the coolest McDonald’s in the world. The fast food giant was one of the first global brands to come into post-Soviet Union Georgia, an era that brought in a new type of materialism and ideas about capitalism. It was a sign of what was possible, in every respect.
Political Critique or Just Lovin' It?
Whether it is actually a comment on cynical consumers or not, paying a guy, eating his food, and renting out his space as a way to “criticise” him, stinks just a little. Or maybe that’s just the smell of cold fries.
Gvasalia tells Vogue,
“When the Soviet Union ended in Georgia when we were kids, the first thing to open that came from the West was McDonald’s,” he said. “It was like the maker of capitalism, and all the rich people from all around would bring their kids for birthday parties. It was like the place to be! We’d never seen a Big Mac or drank a Coke. I always wanted to be able to have my own celebration in McDonald’s. And now—I can!”
Gvasalia has famously staged other cinematic shows, like the AW19 season Vetements collection in Paris’ Natural History Museum (Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle) among stuffed giraffes, lions, and monkeys, citing that if he had not been a designer, he would have worked in cinema.
Hail to the Golden Arches.
Maybe the SS20 Vetements collection is raking out subversive political and social arguments or maybe it is an homage to the almighty golden arches. Only the self-described “pragmatist”, Gvasalia himself knows for sure.
What more could we ask from an artist than to demonstrate and canonise not only their past, but our present? Whether we see glory in it though, is all on us.