The Resort and Pre-Fall collections are always very telling of what Balenciaga’s Nicolas Ghesquiere has in store for his big ready-to-wear collections. Sometimes his house archive distillations can be very obtuse, so hyper-modern to the point that no historical reference to Cristobal Balenciaga himself can be plucked from the given line-up. His last Resort collection, however, was a different story. There was a palpable, easily extracted classical note in the sensual ballerina ruffles and the couture flou of the floor-length white gown. Even the big shot editorials leading up to the Spring 2013 season were telling of what Ghesquiere was working on in the atelier. They all pointed to unabashed sensuality for Spring. Turns out Resort’s sensuality was a mere breadcrumb trail towards what Spring would be all about – sex.
Ghesquiere opened the show with Kirstin Liljegren and Juliane Gruner, respectively, the sensationally sexy and hungover duo from last Spring’s Patti Smith inspired campaign. Liljegren got the ball rolling with a harness bra top with strategic side cut outs and high-waisted pants. The nod to Resort was loud, clear, but exponentially more carnal. Gruner followed in a dramatic black skirt that reached the hip bone on one side and ran in edged ruffles down the bias, backed underneath in a starch white. Caroline Brasch Nielsen’s version was lined in a vibrant pink, while Saskia de Brauw’s, the most beautiful one on offer, came in white with a floor-length mullet cut. It must be noted that there was so much leg exposed with these showpieces that little shorts were required underneath (the requisite short is becoming a thing apparently, given Dries Van Noten’s show the day before). If those Spanish skirts played with peekaboo, the extremity of the hiked hankerchief skirts that soon followed should prove the final word on lustful matters here.
The vast offering of skirts should put smiles on those who expected more than last season’s understated A-lines. There was a fabulous group of accordion pleated corolla skirts that moved like anemones with each step, but if that’s too tranquil an image, it was easily dispelled by the barbed wire that nested on the seams and in the myriad folds. (What did that all mean? “Tut, tut! No touchy”?)
He finished things off with party dresses and skirts that were blends of Ghesquiere’s staple high-tech synthetics and guipure lace. Molded in curlicues and rivulets of who knows what other materials, with one dress held up by an asymmetric barbed wire lace strap, this is where his futuristic touch felt its most distinct (and only because those tweed skirt suits in the middle of the show looked so legitimate, when in fact, they were a lot of things, but tweed they were not).
There’s a chance the accessories were just as equally telling of Ghesquiere’s underlying message. The heels on the lace-up Victorian booties were chunky geometric hollowed out boxes; gold diadems with silver tree branches on the ends that served as hair pins nested not on top of the head, but on the back; simple gold necklaces were almost lost behind the bigger bling on the fingers – a shining row of gold knuckle rings. The Balenciaga woman this season was something like a coy, man-eating goddess. One who eats mortal men for breakfast. There’s no denying it – this collection had bite.