It’s no secret that Balenciaga‘s menswear shows and presentations are a considerably sobering experience compared to its universally lauded sister outings. Even when Nicolas Ghesquiere tackles similar conceits for both lines, not necessarily in the same season, the menswear always arrives refracted through the light of a much more accessible, real-world prism.
Asia has been in Ghesquiere’s horizon for some time now. Spring ’11 womenswear served a serious Japanese punk fare, while Spring ’12 resurrected the famous 1967 wedding veil inspired by eel fishermen’s brimmed hats. Now, the kimono has surfaced in his purview; a kimono with none of the binding; rigor, but a generous rigor. Couture, in other words – that same voluminous, rounded-edged couture that was built by the Maison Balenciaga himself. Couture is on everyone’s lips these days, particularly when referring to men’s fashion. That secret ladies-only society is finally being opened up to the gents, using Balenciaga’s own codes, which is perhaps why some propositions here looked so immediately familiar. An oversized taupe kimono coat looked like one of Rick Owens’ oracle robes let loose. Owens flashed in again on a sleeveless black tee tucked into black high-waisted trousers. But perhaps nothing was as assuredly couture as the bat sleeves on a men’s shell top.
It wouldn’t be a proper Balenciaga outing without dipping in the deep, rich and vast house archives. What he fished out was a floral ‘Canopy’ print that came fixed onto silk bombers, and most notably, on a dinner shirt (the matching foulard touch was a bit much). Another reworked piece was last season’s Chelsea boot, much sleeker here, and more sensual too, judging by that geometric side cut out that fell directly on the ankle.
All the Balenciaga menswear staples were present: the leather jackets, the outerwear, the suiting, but more Spartan than ever before. An oversized khaki mac had drama, and that piece was surely the outerwear’s winning ticket. Either way, it’s working for the brand. This year’s Cannes Film Festival was packed with men’s Balenciaga suits. It would’ve been great to see Brad Pitt wearing the freshest offering here – a slate gray silk cotton seer-sucker ensemble. A fresh proposition indeed, but not as haunting as the opening black suit – the sharpness and priestliness of it made it look as if it were tailored-made for some celluloid sharp-shooter. The wealthy, quiet type.