Balenciaga Spring 2013

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“I thought it was interesting to play with that contrast between Balenciaga’s cubism and architectural rigidity, and with mythology, antiquity, and movement.” – Nicolas Ghesquière

Every season, I always choose to save one collection in its entirety. And for Spring 2013, Nicolas Ghesquière absolutely stunned with what turned out to be his last collection for Balenciaga. But, man, what a lasting impression to make with your final collection. I am two seasons behind in my reviews [And I am very slowly catching up, but we’ll get there. I promise!], and I am still seeing the effects of this collection trickling its way into mass market.  The flamenco flounces, the “molded sweetheart-neckline bras” (Absolutely gorgeous. I totally covet them.), the long tailored vests, the layered gold rings adorning every finger, the boxy cropped singlets paired with those bias-cut skirts raised all the way up to there…, all design elements frequently seen in street style today.  And while it is interesting to track its influence, I am more taken by the contradictions represented in this collection.  For all his design complexity, Ghesquière takes a whole host of references and collages them into a collection that is effortlessly pulled together and instantly covetable.  Though, to be fair, I have yet to come across a dance-inspired collection/editorial that I didn’t like.  There is something about the melding of dance and fashion that I really really enjoy.  But while I tend to favor dance elements, the beauty of this collection is far more visceral than that.

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For one, the balance of austerity and sensuality is beautifully conveyed with each look.  For instance, the structure and strength of the traditional pantsuit is offset by the revealed sweetheart bras while flamenco ruffled skirts provide a flirtatious counterpoint to starkly tailored tabards. As’s Jo-Ann Furniss puts it, “Ghesquière has found a way to make something that is stark, sensual, and emotional.” (Read her excellent interview here.) Severity is not a characteristic I normally associate with passion, but somehow, this collection imparts an impression of both controlled structure and wild abandon.  Contradictions that I am still trying to wrap my head around. Though, I do love the blend of architectural shape and bodily molding on display; look 1 demonstrates this wonderfully. The quality and work here is absolutely exquisite.

Incidentally, I’m afraid that this review hasn’t been terribly coherent. I was (and am still) so moved by this collection that I find it difficult to fully articulate precisely why I enjoyed the collection. But if anything, there is a self-confidence to Ghesquière’s work this season that is very moving. This quiet strength made for a rather cerebral and emotional collection, one that moves the conversation forward.  I cannot wait to see what he does at Louis Vuitton in the upcoming week.

For a far more intelligent review along with a more complete picture on Ghesquière’s references, please read Hamish Bowles’s thoughts on this collection here.

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