Balenciaga Pre-Fall 2012 Collection

by Alexander Patino

Expect the unexpected is the constant protocol du jour on show or press day at Balenciaga. The guessing game is only a halfway fruitless endeavor with a Nicolas Ghesquiere collection. He’s something of a scientist/designer hybrid himself and Pre-Fall and Resort is where he gets to experiment, where he works out ideas that will become fully processed only later on the runway. You could see how those folded shorts from the last Resort season evolved into the colorful and severely hiked hot pants that dominated the Spring silhouette. Resort’s extreme footwear also reached its apotheosis on the runway only months later.

Some of Spring’s ideas still ruminated with Ghesquiere for this mid-season showing. Exaggerated frocks and trenches had that similar Watteau flairing from last season’s closing patchwork dresses. The lower seam near the hem of the first look, a candy apple red smock dress, resembled the start of a bustle on a petticoat. If that color and all that volume came off as too much look (Madonna’s ‘Nothing Really Matters’ was the immediate association), it worked much better on those gray and purple trench coats, respectively.

It’s always a treat to see Ghesquiere’s sci-fi minded fancies at Balenciaga and this collection falls right in there after a healthy extension concentrated more so with wearability. With a vision of France in the 70s readying itself for a sartorial shift into the 80s as the temporal focus, the lineup needed Ghesquiere’s forward-thinking maneuvers to keep it from pure throwback territory.

There were lots of turtlenecks and plenty of bombastic color. Some of those metallic fabrics looked like 80s nail enamel while track pants came in arrays of fuchsia and cobalt. The trousers came affixed with folded waistlines, almost like those seen on last season’s nifty new proposition for denim pants. Ghesquiere kept the idea going with sporty industrial peplum cummerbunds. The jackets in leather, animal print and silk patchworks will surely fly off the rack (and destined to be photographed to death), as will Pierre Hardy’s consistently beautiful footwear (those high boots in orange were the best here).

So with that said, what should we expect to creep up in Paris next March? My money is on a trench-laden line-up. So far Pre-Fall has been very kind to the duffel, but as history has come to show, more often than not, his vision will become the final word on the matter.