Balenciaga Muse Eliza Douglas Speaks on her Art and Ukraine

Eliza Douglas, the artist and model who closed the Fall ready-to-wear Balenciaga show during Paris Fashion Week in a Ukraine-blue gown, speaks to V on creating art in a time of war

Eliza Douglas has been walking the Balenciaga runway and appearing in their ubiquitous advertising for many seasons now, but she had a truly massive moment this past season when she walked for Demna once more, but this time closing the emotional show in a Ukraine-blue full-body gown and stilettos, alongside a counterpart dressed in an all Ukraine-yellow puffer jacket and slacks. The powerful setup—inside a dark airplane hangar a man-made blizzard raged, which made the models struggle to walk the runway against the mighty gusts and blinding snow, signifying an unstoppable will to forge ahead, even under the threat of war and punishment—was an instant viral moment. It made a bold statement that the fashion world, at large, is against Putin.

While being part of such a profound show seems like an overwhelming experience, Douglas, who is a multimedia artist first and foremost, was clearly up to the task (she actually donated her entire Balenciaga runway modeling payment to the World Food Program in support of Ukraine). 

Now, Douglas has partnered with Platform, the e-commerce site that helps viewers both discover and buy fine art, to showcase her own work: four one-of-a-kind canvases, one of which has already sold. We caught up with Douglas to discuss being an artist right now, and what being a Balenciaga baby is like. 

See the full interview below:

VMAGAZINE: As an artist, how does it feel right now to be creating art in a time of unrest?

ELIZA DOUGLAS: I want to make art, so I am going to do it if I am able to. But I don’t think it must be done. And I think it is rare these days that art has a significant political impact.  

V: Your relationship with the house of Balenciaga is quite strong—do you feel creatively supported by the brand, as one of its more recognizable faces?

ED: On a personal level I feel supported by the friendships I have made through being a part of the brand. In terms of how participation affects my art career, I’ve always assumed it is a mixed bag. Some people might have a positive association with fashion, and maybe their interest in me has increased because of my connection to it, while I’m sure others relate to it as a discrediting factor. When Balenciaga first approached me to model, my art career was just getting off the ground and I was nervous about how it might affect it. But in the end, I have fun and am inspired by participating in their projects, so I don’t question it anymore. 

V: Tell us about your art on Platform!

ED: They are paintings created from T-shirts that I have collected over the years, then folded and manipulated in various ways, and then photographed. And finally, put it onto a canvas.

V: Does making your art feel like a healing process? What does it represent to you?

ED: Overall the fact that I can make art is a demonstration of personal growth on my part, because for years I was too sensitive and fearful to really go for it with my work. For me, while sometimes it feels great, making art can also involve a lot of pain and struggle. Although that can also be said about healing… sometimes, healing hurts. 

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