Although most of the attention for Balenciaga’s 51st Couture show in Paris was given to its celebrity-studded runway lineup, the accessories showcased may be far more interesting. Standing out among the lot is a fully functional speaker bag made in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen.
Luxury’s boombox — The accessory draws on Bang & Olufsen’s affinity for sophisticated, futuristic technology and the signature Balenciaga utilitarian vibe. The speaker bag is exactly what the name suggests, combining the capabilities of a Bluetooth music player with the storage solutions of a purse. Each bag was constructed from solid aluminum and then sent to Bang & Olufsen’s Factory 5 in Struer, Denmark. There, it underwent a rigorous hand-polishing process that resulted in its sleek, anodized exterior.
One side of the bag has the perforations of the speaker unit as well as the function controls below the handle. The other side is smooth and fitted with a hinged door to store your purse essentials. Both collaborators add their name to the bag for branding and offer inky black and silver-gray versions. Don’t expect this to become Balenciaga’s new it-bag, though; it’s limited to 20 special-edition units.
Saving face — Balenciaga also debuted a face shield made in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.’s engineering division. Kanye would surely approve, given his love for weird face masks. And thanks to months of trials, the shield’s materials and construction make it aerodynamic and breathable.
Unlike the flimsy cloth masks that have become part of our daily arsenal, the mask stabilizes CO2 intake and doesn’t fog up as the temperature changes. The shield, which covers the entire face, is made from polyurethane that’s been ink-tinted, molded, and polished by hand. It’s not a one-size-fits-all either, as each mask is customized to the measurements of its wearer.
Balenciaga hasn’t made such a display of its accessories in a while, instead focusing its energy lately on sportswear apparel, questionable footwear, and metaverse projects. Still, the speaker bag is a sleek little piece, bridging two concepts into one useful product. Unless you visit Balenciaga’s new Couture flagship in Paris, which marks today as its grand opening, you’ll have to admire the accessories from afar.