On November 19th, 2021, thirty looks from Balenciaga’s 50th Couture Collection were presented for the first time in China, at the transformed TANK Shanghai. The museum’s spaces are refurbished, becoming a couture salon, a showroom, a grand hall, a banquet room for a five-day schedule of viewings, fittings, tours, and performances.

Were it not for public health-related travel restrictions, Demna and his team would visit China, he says, adding, "As China isn’t able to travel to Europe, either, I felt it was our duty to bring the Balenciaga 50th Couture Collection there. I’m proud to share with China this very important moment celebrating the culture, craftmanship, and heritage of Balenciaga in an exhibition featuring my first Couture collection.”

Nineteen looks from the first couture collection designed by Demna (and Balenciaga’s first couture collection since 1967 when founder Cristóbal Balenciaga left the fashion industry) are displayed on invisible mannequins, appearing to float around a vast circular showroom. One of these is a never- before-seen look, created exclusively for the event.

Eleven more looks from the collection are in a bespoke dressing suite built along the bank of the Huangpu River. Its rooms correspond to the traditional couture ceremony: a salon for clients and their entourage to view pieces, a walled-off podium for taking a client’s measurements, and a private changing area.

From the courtyard, only an expanse of cream-colored curtain hints at the spaces’ new interiors. Once inside, guests experience an environment that draws on the aesthetic tropes of Balenciaga’s recently restored historic couture salon and atelier, 10 Avenue George V. Abundant drapery and carpet in a pale monochrome, warmly backlit ceiling panels, and infinite reflection create a confounding ambience for furniture copying that used for Balenciaga’s first couture shows in 1930s Paris.

Cédric Charbit, CEO of Balenciaga says of the event that it is “a worldwide exclusive where for the first time our Couture collection is showcased outside of Paris to celebrate Balenciaga's return to Couture. It is an honor to share the heritage of the House and Demna’s creative vision with our highly sophisticated audience who has the utmost understanding of luxury and craft. At Balenciaga we are one. Our central and Chinese teams worked seamlessly together on bringing this event to life without being able to travel.