So, suffice to say, it was a jarring experience to see those bagged quilts — or bags that look like those quilts — on the runway at Paris Fashion Week, a place and circumstance that could not be further from those dusty, packed shelves of the lone Oriental market in my Midwestern town. We've criticized luxury designers in the past for mining the experiences of minority communities, but, Balenciaga's Demna Gvasalia
is an immigrant himself, and for him to find comfort and symbolism in this particular style is something that I intrinsically get. Beyond that, Gvasalia's own experiences as a refugee
casts this bag in another light: it's hard to separate how he is affecting Balenciaga, and how recent Syrian refugees — sitting on aid-issued foam mattresses and those fleece blankets on the same Parisian sidewalks that fashion-show attendees walked to get to the brand's spring 2017 show — are affecting Paris.