Most residents on the 500 block of South Windsor Boulevard have gotten used to the steady flow of visitors photographing themselves or a model in the middle of the street with the iconic Hollywood sign in the background but nothing prepared them for last Saturday when the fashion brand Balenciaga staged a runway show in the street announcing the Fall 2024 collection.
The unique setting as well as the fashion collaboration with Erewhon has generated lots of buzz in the fashion press as designer Demna staged the event with celebrity models including Cardi B, Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, and Nicole Kidman with the famed Hollywood sign in the distance. The techno soundtrack that blasted during the show was written by Demna and his husband/music director BFRND.
Organizers blocked off Windsor Blvd between 4th and 6th Street and 5th Street between Plymouth and Lorraine for several days as extensive preparations were made for the event. Apparently, the company’s representatives have been working with the Windsor Square Association and residents on the blocks with the closures for months, though other residents on nearby streets were surprised to see the closures causing traffic tie-ups. Tight-lipped staff who refused to answer questions seemed to further irritate already crabby neighbors who were wondering how this could be happening in a residential neighborhood.
Starting Saturday morning, residents said there was an invasion of black SUVs lining the streets as guests were ferried into the neighborhood from nearby drop-off locations. According to a report on Vogue.com, guests were not told where the event was located in the interest of security.
For most of the day, black-clad event staff, private security, and off-duty police officers kept the streets clear. One resident on the 500 block of Windsor said they were told to confine themselves, and their staff, to quarters for the entire day. Another resident complained they weren’t even allowed to walk their dogs.
Residents were compensated for the inconvenience anywhere from $500 to $3000 depending on where they lived. Board members of the Windsor Square Association told the Buzz, the company made a generous contribution to the Windsor Square Association. The $19,500 donation that was negotiated will “just about cover the WSA maintenance costs for Windsor Square’s Larchmont Median for about a year.”
Despite that, one resident told the Buzz, they had no idea how big an impact the event would have on the neighborhood. And, had they known, they said, they might have declined to participate.
It seems the most frequent complaint came from those who didn’t realize what was going on and were not able to get information in advance. Association board members said they were told that event planners had notified all the affected neighbors.
“I think everyone agrees that there was some serious lack of communication on all sides, and I’m hoping your article can include a link for neighbors who haven’t already done so to sign up for the WSA newsletter and maybe even join the association,” WSA board member Gary Gilbert told the Buzz. “We should have had reminders from those in the know and sent out notices not only in the newsletter but also to the affected block captains. Lesson learned.”
But not everyone was crabby about the event.
“I understand that the residents that were most encroached upon were compensated and Balenciaga paid them well,” resident Randy Esada. “So sure, why not? The street is gorgeous and now it will be celebrated even more than before. #LivingArt”
“We are always being inconvenienced by filming in our fabulous neighborhood and the majority of the productions are not that great,” added Esada. “This was an important event and was very well managed.”
Another resident praised the organizers, saying they were very courteous and very thorough with cleanup.
One neighbor remarked it was an amazing spectacle of organization and expense for an essentially 15-minute show.
In case you missed it, the 17-minute video of the event is available on the Balenciaga website. Not surprisingly, the neighborhood looks fabulous, though the concrete street could use some attention. It’s pretty cool and worth a look.