Fashion designer

Demnagram interview: talking to Saba Bakhia, founder of the creative director of Balenciaga instagram

In an age of social media overexposure, where sharing anything risks ruining the mystique of art, a designer’s digital footprint matters. We have already seen it, as Bottega Veneta, then under Daniel Lee, opted to literally go “off the grid”, deleting the brand’s Instagram account. Last summer, Balenciaga did something similar, an unsurprising decision given that its own creative director Demna’s IG grid is completely empty. Instead, her admirers went to @demnagramthe digital invention of georgian fashion obsession Saba Bakhiato keep up to date with his career.

The account — a support page, not a fan page, Saba points out — chronicles all developments in the world of Demna, whether it’s new Balenciaga collections, product launches and campaigns, or professional achievements, such as his recent place in the Time Influential people listing.

@demnagram’s bio reads: “Supporter of @Demna. SUPPORTED BY @BALENCIAGA. Since March 2022, Saba has worked with the house to ensure that the information reaching its nearly 200,000 followers is accurate and true to the spirit of the brand and its elusive creative director.

Here, the 22-year-old explains how a single Facebook post started his journey to becoming an essential part of the Balenciaga team, he and Demna’s shared Georgian heritage, and what it’s like to be invited to a show Balenciaga.

**You first communicated with Demna via Facebook during her early days at Balenciaga. Can you remember what you wrote in that message?
**My first communication with Demna dates back to 2016 via Facebook. I was amazed by his talent, and wanted to express my respect to him, so I texted him a sentence: “You are simply the best”. It was our first communication. Then, before @demnagram even existed, Demna sent me an inspiring message: “Believe in yourself and follow your dreams, they will always lead you to good places.” He gave me a whole new life.

**When you launched @demnagram, what were your intentions with the account?
**I wanted to pay tribute to what Demna does at Balenciaga. i think fashion [exists] before and after him. His vision of the brand is revolutionary and each show presented by Demna can be called a true artistic performance.

**You mentioned that @demnagram is a “support” account, not a “fan” account. Why was it important to establish this difference?
**For me, there is a big difference. Sometimes fan pages are like stalkers, gossiping and sharing very personal things about celebrities – but that’s not my style. I do not like it. Demna is an extremely private person. Demna is one of the artists who prefer to communicate through her work. That’s why @demnagram only focuses on Demna’s work, not her personal life.

** You share heritage with Demna – you are both from Georgia. What parts of your country’s DNA are found in Demna’s work?
**This is one of the reasons why his collections affect me differently. Georgia has played an important role in Demna’s personal and professional development; he grew up watching what Georgian women wore. Thus, each collection says a little about our country and our tastes, like an overview of what is fashionable here. Demna is a storyteller and a designer, and his stories are so personal. From the Georgian point of view — the feeling of dramatism; black color; oversized silhouettes; sadness and celebration at the same time – it’s so specific in our culture. In Georgia, black is everything. We wear it everywhere, from funerals to weddings.

Until recently, we didn’t have fashion magazines – but especially in the 90s, people didn’t know anything about fashion designers or trends, but we still wore oversized black clothes. If you weren’t super rich, your parents would buy clothes two or three years in advance, so you could grow into them. It may sound funny, but it was our reality. We wore clothes from cousins ​​who were four or five years older. So yeah, we didn’t know Margiela or Balenciaga shapes, but we still wore oversized t-shirts and pants. It’s very much alive and prominent in the Demna fashion world now.

Do you consider Instagram as a curatorial space in the same way as an art gallery?Nowadays, social media is such an important tool, but it’s not easy to do it right. It’s a new way for young creatives to discover their own style. In today’s reality, Instagram can be used as a curatorial space that is almost equivalent to an art gallery because Instagram has the power of visual storytelling. There are many examples of this, but I don’t see Demnagram that way. I think Demnagram is more of a media platform.

You are now working with Balenciaga on the page. When did they get involved? How does their influence affect him? In March, I started working with the brand. @demnagram is officially endorsed by Balenciaga, and it’s the greatest honor to work with the Demna team. Right from the start, he gave me freedom on my own, and that’s very important to me because I have my own strategy. The Balenciaga team is always with me to help me with anything. With their help, my page is more reliable than ever for people. They send me everything in advance for my account and that helps me a lot. I never post rumors, leaked images or anything that is not confirmed or published directly by Balenciaga.

**You are now invited to the shows. How does it feel to rub shoulders with others who have been co-signed by Demna?
**When I decided to create @demnagram, I never imagined that one day I would attend the Balenciaga show, have the chance to meet so many amazing people and start working with the brand . It’s more than a dream come true. I was invited by Demna himself; he knew what it would mean for me to be invited by him. I’ve never been to fashion weeks, not even in Georgia, so Balenciaga was my very first show. I met people who work with Demna and they were very nice to me. Obviously I was so nervous, but thanks to them everything went well.

Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds