Trigger warning: Maskaphobia and automatonophobia triggers ahead.
Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia recently took to the New York Stock Exchange alongside a slew of models to showcase the fashion house’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection, both in-person and live-streamed via YouTube and TikTok.
Each model was unusually hidden with an array of both dark and brightly coloured latex masks and bodysuits underneath their designer gear, leading to onlookers wondering why the catwalk show didn’t ‘come with a trigger warning’. You can watch a clip here:
Sharing a clip of the undoubtedly bizarre fashion show, Instagram account @sainthoax wrote: “The new Balenciaga show should come with a trigger warning,” inviting a slew of ‘triggered’ onlookers to share their opinions of the designer house’s latest endeavour.
“My sleep paralysis demons FW22,” one commenter joked.
“The first one is the demon chasing you when you turn all the lights off at your house,” another wrote.
“Yup. Definitely the opening to All my horror stories and nightmares,” said another.
Another quipped: “I prefer the slow zombies. I’m a traditionalist.”
“Oh great. *New fear unlocked*,” someone else admitted.
“This is not the behaviour,” a different viewer said.
“What is happening? Their walks are terrifying lol,” another social media user wrote.
“Actual footage of my sleep paralysis demons’ Christmas party,” someone explained.
“This looks like me walking to the fridge/pantry for the 5th time thinking I’ll find something different to eat,” another person joked.
Tyla has contacted a representative of Balenciaga for a comment on the matter.
This particular ‘horror story’ or ‘nightmare’ shown in the video of the models wearing latex face coverings could be what is known as maskaphobia, the fear of masks, or somniphobia, the fear of sleep paralysis including a fear of sleep demons, says clinical hypnotherapist Helen Birch.
"Watching the show may have triggered this reaction just as intensely as if they were facing the phobia in reality. The brain doesn't know the difference between reality and imagination and so will respond as if the situation is real.
"The show may have triggered a phobic reaction. A phobia is an irrational fear in which a person has a persistent dread of a particular situation, creature, or activity," she explains.
Another fear this fashion show could have arisen in viewers is automatonophobia, which is the fear of automatons, wax figures, humanoid robots and other human-representing figures.
"For many people, these phobias don’t make sense but for those who have these phobias, they do. When confronted with their source of fear, these people can suffer from great amounts of distress. They can experience difficulty in breathing, racing heart, sweating, dry mouth, lightheadedness, and have a sense of doom."
If you are suffering from a phobia, speak to your GP. They may refer you to a behavioural therapist, such as a psychologist, for help and support.