Balenciaga Spring 2012

Credit: Vogue.com

The benches breaking did the House of Balenciaga a favor.  This would-be disaster had inadvertently added a whole new intensity to the show as a standing-only crowd provides an entirely different dynamic to a live show.  Many described the experience as akin to being at the Church of Balenciaga (probably blasphemous to some, but I would rather have an argument about organized religion here).   Not that Nicolas Ghesquière needs the help; the industry’s finest already speak of Ghesquière-helmed Balenciaga with a touch of reverence.  And for good reason.  Fantastic atmosphere aside, this was a gloriously well-woven futuristic outlook for Nicolas Ghesquière.  Even with the Cristóbal Balenciaga archives at his fingertips (I could happily live in those archives probably), he manages to craft something novel and modern without losing the aesthetic of Cristóbal Balenciaga.

 Now, I could launch into a detailed technical examination of makes Ghesquière a master of design technique here, but honestly, there are many others who are better equipped to do it justice.  I will touch on some of them certainly.  However, Hamish Bowles already does a wonderful job of reviewing this collection.  Please read it here.

Personally, my reaction to this collection is a bit visceral.  I know that many aspects to the modernity of this collection suit my own sense of style and therefore make me already inclined to like it.  But more importantly, Ghesquière has reminded me of the magic of haute couture.  This is a prêt-à-porter collection wrapped up in an elegant haute couture casing.  By weaving in the stiff fabrics of Balenciaga sixties couture, he manages to both give homage to the history of his house and add a luxurious edge to his work.  Textiles of  thick silk ziberline and ribbed ottoman add depth to his vision, subtly calling to mind the sailor influence of this season.  I particularly love how he executes boxy volume and exaggerated proportions, playing with what he describes as “the idea of architecture floating.”  And while the fabrics are sturdy and structured, there is still something very ethereal about this.  The pieces feel grounded by the utilitarian tailoring and distinctive cutting, but move with an unexpected freedom.

It is hard to articulate precisely why I like this.  I think Nicolas Ghesquière has found a balance between fantastical escapism and reliable utilitarian structure.  He is able to harness his considerable technique and apply it to his latest flight of fancy, something not every designer can pull off.  Moreover, I cannot help but marvel at the beautiful craftsmanship that comes out of it.   If anything else (flights of fancy and whatnot), superb technique cannot be faked.  And I applaud Ghesquière for the work he has done.  I am left with visions of “architecture floating.”

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