System Issue 19

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In the six years since he joined Balenciaga as creative director, Demna has simultaneously reinvented the house and redefined luxury fashion.

Over the past few months, System and photographer Juergen Teller have taken a closer look inside the Balenciaga phenomenon, starting with Demna himself. The designer reveals his motivations and inspirations in a series of wide-ranging conversations – with writer Cathy Horyn, alongside Balenciaga CEO Cédric Charbit, and on the phone with his one-time teacher at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Linda Loppa.

Plus, interviews with Balenciaga’s chief creative officer and Demna’s trusted right-hand Martina Tiefenthaler, and the man responsible for Balenciaga’s runway-show music and husband to Demna, BFRND; a look at why Balenciaga’s casting is like ‘a members’ club, but for non-members only’; why make-up artist Inge Grognard’s work with Balenciaga is so ground-breaking; and Epic Games and Unreal Engine on how Balenciaga’s recent Fortnite collaboration blurs the barriers between IRL and the metaverse. Photographer David Sims and fashion editor Joe McKenna showcase Demna’s Balenciaga archives from Autumn/Winter 2016 to Winter 2021. And finally, Demna reveals the contents of his personal phone-camera roll.