The year of 2015 was apparently the most restless period in fashion arena in terms of shifts and changeovers to occur day and night. The premium Spanish fashion house Balenciaga now under the French control was also among those to go under changes. American fashion designer Alexander Wang kissed good-bye to Balenciaga with a delicious paean of white lingerie-style collection in the beginning of October, which was then followed by constant guesses about Wang’s successor. Bob’s your uncle! –Georgian fashion designer Demna Gvasalia landed on Balenciaga to breathe new urban chic life into the brand’s aesthetics who is, parenthetically, also at the nominal helm of the collective brand Vetements.
François-Henri Pinault, president and chief executive of Kering by which the fashion house is owned at this juncture described the designer as “a powerful emerging force in today’s creative world.” Now that Gvasalia’s debut Balenciaga fall/winter 2016-2017 RTW collection has been unveiled we seem to seize clearly enough what François-Henri Pinault meant by uttering a powerful emerging force. Strong, square-built shoulders, curvy waistlines and wild sprezzatura all around were power indicators, inter alia at today’s Balenciaga runway show held in the former Canal+ studio.
When we claim powerful, we literally mean it in all possible terms starting from the runway’s square-shaped venue with foam-padded walls to the ear-splitting music to the models’ all-powerful and dominant visages, the oversized, geometrical and at times even bizarre shapes, those chunky thigh-high platforms, the Georgian designer’s favorite footwear style. Demna Gvasalia himself characterized the collection as “a reimagining of the work of Cristobal Balenciaga—a wardrobe of absolute contemporaneity and realism imbued with the attitude of haute couture. A translation, not a reiteration. A new chapter.”
The runway show kick-started with a couple of looks sending out some strict vibes of wet blanket teachers – tan and grey checkered skirtsuits with waistlines ridiculously going unshapely and far cry from traditional vision over female body, no-makeup pale complexions and a pair of optical sunglasses to reinforce the severe air. In fact, these were the translation of Cristobal Balenciaga’s iconic cocoon shapes that he had been materializing on skirts mainly. And now with Gvasalia things took a more spacious and voluminous spin albeit without perplexities among Balenciaga customers, who should just put up with new Balenciaga + Vetements of-the-wall mixture.
Then it was all about crazy sprezzatura at Balenciaga. There were anoraks, trench coats and puffed options, leather jackets and some vibrant sporty pieces galore, but all of them worn in some off-kilter way – shoulders intentionally pulled off as if on the verge to slip down, while in case of those cobalt blue and navy blue anoraks it was the collars creating some futuristic sharp roundness around the models’ necks. And if some more chaos is needed, look to those shirts worn beneath the outerwear and semi-tucked under the skirts.
But helter-skelter needs to be continued and the floral pieces came to fill the bill at the Balenciaga fall 2016 runway show under the guise of maxi dresses, where iridescent flowers were spread all over hell’s half acre but not unrooted from the same field. Floral thigh-high boots matched with them were just complicating the situation and propelling to determine where everything started and where ended.
The end of the show was softer and more traditional without any abrupt shapes or a strange twist. The black strapless dress embellished with some botanical embroidery was ideal for creating a sultry look, while a brown checkered dress with humble neckline and godet hemlines should come right up the alley of any conservative lady.
We are over and done with Demna Gvasalia’s interpretation of Balenciaga already brought into open but instead at sixes and sevens whether to intentionally look sloppy and slovenly come the fall season or else stick to our traditional vision over female beauty. Time will tell on that!
Photos courtesy of Vogue