Yesterday, the fashion world watched in awe as Demna Gvasalia’s latest menswear collection for Balenciaga made its debut. For Fall 2017, the Paris-based designer reinvented office attire, offering twisted — at times NSFW — takes on traditional corporate garb. The tailoring was impeccable. The layering was inspirational. The mock-shopping bags (that will no doubt retail for upwards of $1,000) were eye-roll inducing. And in the midst of it all, Bernie Sanders’ logo (or, more accurately, a riff on it) appeared. Given the collection’s corporate and commercial overtones and what we know of Gvasalia’s politics, this apparent tribute to the democratic socialist senator was somewhat disorienting (though totally welcome).
Gvasalia has become an industry darling thanks to his unique, iconoclastic designs. That said, many take issue with his political practices — more specifically, his fondness for summarily casting all-white models in his Vetements and Balenciaga showings. “For someone whose excellent design work has been dubbed ‘revolutionary’ in fashion circles, the all-white casting Gvasalia champions is, unfortunately, out of touch with today’s global reality,” wrote Business of Fashion contributor Jason Campbell in a March 2016 op-ed.
Gvasalia isn’t one to be cowed by critics. Nor does the Georgian designer seem apologetic about the lack of racial diversity on his runways. “I would never compromise the credibility of a collection, for instance, to cater to what someone might think regarding our politics, or to send an insincere, first-degree message about something people expect for the sake of correctness,” Gvasalia told 032c magazine back in 2015.
So what do we take from this sincere, first-degree message? Is Gvasalia more politically progressive than we’d been led to believe by his whitewashed catwalks? Is he purposely trolling Trump and Clinton? Is he trolling would-be Bernie voters who sat out the election? Is this simply a marketing ploy meant to appeal to his millennial, left-leaning constituency? Where was this high-fashion election merch when we needed it most? How much for a tee? We have so many questions.
Regardless of Gvasalia’s possible motives, we’re feelin’ it. Scroll through the slideshow below to see all the Bernie-inspired brilliance.