Fierce and gritty: that is how fashion critics around the world are describing Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga Fall/Winter 2019 collection. Taking to Paris Fashion Week overnight, the runway was overcome with the pungent scent of asphalt as the celebrated designer redefined the French fashion house with a honest perspective of the city streets. Known for its outrageous designs and famed sneakers, Balenciaga was all but stripped back in a presentation of bold minimalism.

Returning to its true form of classic refinement elevated with modern graphics and eye-catching hues, Gvasalia aimed to depict “the real Parisian of today”. Boasting structured tailoring paired with denim and lightweight knitwear, the collection was surprisingly accessible as it met with high fashion appeal. Straying away from seasonal narratives and micro-trends, the runway was set behind an all-black background, with the styling even simpler.

Like many onlookers of the show, I first noticed the absence of the hyped sneaker, replaced with patent leather oxfords, mules and the occasional inclusion of the gumboot iteration. Dare we say it, but it was admittedly refreshing. Similarly, sportswear took a backseat and rather supported more formalised looks. As its fellow competitors however, a full regress to its heritage aesthetic is not possible as a new generation of buyers – namely the Millennial market – demand a luxury take on underground streetwear.

Reminiscent to design cues found throughout the previous FW/18 runway, Balenicaga made another, yet polished play on electric colours, spread amongst branded essentials, knitwear and leather goods. Relaxed silhouettes in the form oversized outerwear and button-down shirts also made a case for wearability while bags including the much-loved shopper tote teased the new offerings expected for its money-making category.

While the season as a whole is more understated than past collections, its representation of Gvasalia’s knack for twisting the conventional is more than apparent.

Watch the full runway above.

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