Eating The Rich: Triangle of Sadness, Balenciaga and AVAVAV
“When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” The famous quote by social theorist Jean-Jacques Rousseau came during the French revolution, and has now evolved into an outcry of the digital era. While the 1% continue to benefit from further tax cuts, the rest of us are in the midst of an inflation crisis, unfathomable living costs and homelessness is ever increasing. It’s not hard to see why the “eat the rich” mantra has become so popular.
Enter ‘Triangle of Sadness’, Swedish provocateur Ruben Östlund’s latest directorial move. Winning the Palme D’or award at this year’s Cannes, this class warfare dark comedy highlights the obscenity of the rich, with the working class ultimately coming out on top. Needless to say it fast became a film festival-goer favourite, partly due to the championing of underdogs becoming a digital trend. This narrative has instilled a desire for uprise among many, however it seems fashion isn’t quite getting the message.
Some of the world’s biggest design houses, made famous for their unattainable luxury, have cottoned on to the fact that a squeaky clean, too-expensive-to-touch aesthetic is no longer the vibe. Balenciaga is the most obvious example of this. Over the past decade, Balenciaga has become a favourite among millennials and Gen Z, largely due to its anarchic attitude. While Demna’s latest SS23 collection, shown at Paris Fashion Week last month, was inspired by rising inequality and the return of fascism, previous moves have shown a more surface level messaging.
The fashion house has been slammed time and time again for glamorizing ‘poverty-chic’. The brand’s ‘fully destroyed sneakers’ and ‘trash bag’ caused outrage over the internet. Many called out the brand for “trolling” and abusing its large and loyal fanbase. Some suspected these are clever marketing ploys to get the internet talking. Even if that were the case, the fact remains that Balenciaga sold items intentionally depicting something far from luxury — yet held a hefty price tag.
One brand that seems to be getting it is Florence-based AVAVAV. Creative director Beate Karlsson brought escapism and humor to the Spring/Summer 2023 runway, dedicating the collection to the idea of “looking rich”. The designer set out to create a parody of a fashion show, displaying the extreme superficiality of the luxury industry. AVAVAV had models purposefully falling on the runway to personify the feeling of falling hard in the name of “fake richness” while dressed in dollar-sign bodysuits, bootleg LV monograms and “FILTHY RICH” caps.
Rather than aiming to monetize off of stereotypical working class symbols, Karlsson did the exact opposite of labels like Balenciaga. She shoved symbols of wealth in our face and showed us exactly how ridiculous it is, much like Ruben Östlund with ‘Triangle of Sadness’.