When you think about fashion trends you think of those readily available abstractions, such as minimalism, color-blocking, peplums, etc. So far, one of Fall 2012’s most noticeable trends happens to be a whole brand name: Balenciaga. That makes it two seasons in a row now. But where designers opted for Cristobal’s rounded couture shapes for the spring runways, this season has been replete with the influence of Nicolas Ghesquiere’s forward-thinking pizzazz.
‘The Ghesquiere Ubiquity’ makes the latest Balenciaga collection just that more prescient. Balenciaga, Inc. – Ghesquiere’s metaphysical cornerstone for the season sat on the 27th floor of a skyscraper; guests were escorted from their cars by ushers, taken to the new/realized Balenciaga offices by bellboys – a wholly operational team decked out in Balenciaga uniforms. Then, the corporate team. That was his whole point after all, and typically always is – linking the ordinary (the office) and the extraordinary (high-tech innovative fabrics). It’s been his fool-proof model for years now, but it takes his specific genius to carry it out quite like this. Seriously, the man made a masterpiece collection based on kitchen utensil trays.
On the runway every rung in the corporate ladder was addressed through the Balenciaga prism. The openers in sheer dresses, cut in a new vision of an A-line, with lame’ breastplates were the boss ladies. The thick and glossy hems on those gave structure to the edgy dresses while allowing it to maintain its diaphanous, but sexy sway. The color palette it announced was also good news. Sheer cobalt with gold lame’? That’s an absolutely. It was little surprise here to see some of these in Pre-Fall’s 1960s archival tiger print (The undeniably hot footwear is another reworked incarnation with equally fantastic results). The tiger print looked especially dazzling on the ‘interns’ – as a massive silk-stitched embroidery on structured leather crewnecks with wide sleeve flanges.
The white double front paneled A-line skirts that came paired with these tops, as well as with the ‘execs’ equally detailed jackets, was a predominant silhouette, but the real glory of Balenciaga, Inc. were the pants. If their silk parachute material looked just a tinge bit flat for Pre-Fall, here they looked supremely new – almost too cool to use for an office get-up. That high-rise/contrast-colored trouser with a sharp futuristic shouldered V-line blouse tucked in – as seen on the heads of the I.T. department – was as seemingly professional as it was erotic. This group could’ve been spies moonlighting as working girls.
But, the real corporate rogues were those in big geeky satin sweaters with 80s space-age/roll playing graphics and slogans like “Out of the Blue” and “Join a Weird Trip”. Most of us have seen ‘The Social Network’ by now. It’s the Dilberts and the paste eaters who are the corporate silent killers these days – the ones who are bound to take over the establishment. It may sound like a platitude regarding the Google-era zeitgeist, but to distill that kind of idea through fashion – and even more strikingly, through Balenciaga? Here’s another geeky slogan for you: Resistance is futile.
This felt like the Ghesquiere that’s gone missing for about two years. The graphic, edgy qualities that made his outings in the mid-noughties the stuff of fashion legend felt distinctly palpable here. That’s just one thing to be grateful for. Another thing is the timing. How perfect of Ghesquiere to envision Balenciaga, Inc. right when his artistic stamp has trickled down to everyone else’s runways all season long. Is it haughty, or just the facts of life? – That it’s his world and if we aren’t already living in it, by god, how we wish we did.