I Wore Balenciaga’s Most Extreme Catsuit to Fashion Week

Wearing Balenciaga’s black catsuit during New York Fashion Week, I looked great but had some minor setbacks, like not being able to do my job. The spandex piece has boots attached to its legs and gloves on the sleeves, making it difficult, if not impossible to use your hands. Perhaps that’s why we have only seen celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who seems to step out in a new iteration every day, try and wear this fully-covered catsuit. Regardless, they have become a trend, and other labels have followed Balenciaga’s lead. LaQuan Smith has churned out a saucy black catsuit and Atu has a hot pink tiger-striped one.

Photo: Courtesy of Acielle / Style Du Monde

While they are pretty much omnipresent on Instagram and in celebrity street style images, I’ve never seen a passerby wearing one, even in New York where dressing outlandishly is a way of life. I decided to try it out for myself, and Fashion Week would be the perfect place to do so. After all, the event is essentially an excuse to put a little kick into your normal wardrobe. I emailed the Balenciaga team, who messengered the piece over to the Vogue office and included some goodies to style with the catsuit, including the charming Le Cagole croissant bag and a huge quilted scarf akin to a comforter that I was supposed to wear around my arms. (As I had to review shows this season, which means schlepping my laptop with me to and from the shows, I had to forgo the Le Cagole. No cute bag for moi!)

Photo: Courtesy of Acielle / Style Du Monde

“How can I do this?” I thought when I slipped the catsuit on and over my hands. I was completely covered from my neck down, encased in tight spandex. Though, to be honest, I looked great. Essentially a Kardashian-fied Catwoman. But my heart dropped when I went for my phone and realized that there were no sensors on these gloves. My Balenciaga-loving friend suggested that maybe Demna’s intention was to make us not use our phones and think about the world around us. Fat chance! How was I supposed to use my Apple Wallet to get onto the subway? Open my digital vaccine card to let me in at shows? Most importantly, how was I supposed to review any of these shows, which I mostly do from my phone? I thought of drafting an email to my boss, “Hey, remember that Balenciaga catsuit you made me wear? Turns out, I can’t actually do anything in it, so I’m going to sit this one out.” Yeah, right! I’d be booted right out of Vogue’s glass doors.

No, I had to find a way to make it work. I figured I would flip the top of the catsuit down and tie the limp fabric hands around my waist like a makeshift belt. I styled the piece with a tight lace-up Tom Ford–era Gucci shirt, a puffer coat, and a chunky leather jacket that engulfed me. Basically, I looked like a fancy Tribeca mother who lives in leggings and pointy boots. The look was a hit. People really enjoyed the boots, which are pointed and have a jester-esque flair. Vogue writer Liam Hess messaged me on Instagram to say it was giving “sultry medieval squire” and designer Willie Norris called it “renaissance wench at bike week.” Both are fantastic observations.

Photo: Courtesy of Christian Allaire

At the Bevza show in Spring Studios, I saw writer Anna Saber, who photographed my sad, empty gloves dangling behind me on the seat. Otherwise, she approved of the look. After Bevza, I headed to Maryam Nassir Zadeh in an Uber with Jalil Johnson of Saks Fifth Avenue and writer Aemilia Madden. I apologized, stripped off my chunky leather jacket and puffer coat, and announced I would walk into this show in the catsuit. I imagined all of those ethereal showgoers spitting out their kombucha at the sight of my Calabasas-y look. No dice. It was too much of a hassle to change. I put my clothes back on and let the empty glove dangle between my legs.

After MNZ, I headed back to our office at One World Trade Center and figured this was the time to get all the way into the catsuit. My deskmates ooh’d and ahh’d. I enlisted Vogue writer Christian Allaire to snap a picture of myself in the full outfit. It looked great because that’s what this look is for: a really fantastic photo.

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