Justin Bieber looks positively Berlin-tastic in a new Balenciaga campaign, the latest from house creative director Demna Gvasalia.
In the fall 2021 campaign—shot by artist and photographer Katy Grannan—the pop superstar models an oversized black leather bomber, scrunchy black sweatpants, white tube socks, and a pair of the house’s new dadcore running sneakers. When the photos first dropped online this past Friday, the internet was skeptical. Was that really Bieber, in a fashion campaign that also featured the legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert? Indeed, at first glance, the smoldering Bieber does sort of look CGI, which wouldn’t be so out of sync for the French fashion house that literally debuted its fall 2021 collection in the form of a playable video game. Plus, as Twitter was quick to point out, he also happens to look a lot like the Swedish rapper Yung Lean, whose signature buzzcut-and-neck-tattoos look admittedly feel more in Gvasalia’s weirdo lane. But the house was quick to confirm that indeed, seeing is beliebing.
And while it seems a little surprising, perhaps featuring a pop megastar is in fact the ultimate manifestation of Gvasalia’s specific brand of pre-apocalyptic normcore. The Balenciaga shoot is a far cry from Bieber’s crotch-centric, Mark Wahlberg-inspired 2015 Calvin Klein campaign. Instead, it feels like a new step in the singer’s road to redemption, a sign of acceptance into the high-brow graces of the fashion world’s cool kids. (It also feels like a wink and a nod to Gvasalia’s Vetements days, when the brand was more or less the blueprint for Hollywood hypewear.) Notably, in the ad, Bieber carries a matte-black version of the famous Balenciaga City bag, one of the more iconic it-bags of the early-to-mid-2000s, favored by the likes of Lindsay Lohan, the Olsen twins, and Nicole Richie. Perhaps this is vindication for Bieber and the bag alike.