I just got to Paris and I’m sitting in my hotel room, wearing pants that are cutting off circulation to my stomach (flight bloat!) and swiping through the Balenciaga show, which happened at 11:30 a.m. Paris time. The full show was 47 looks long and Instagram’s projecting comments such as “phenomenal,” “utterly brilliant” and “such a smart, cool allure.” When I started scrolling, I wondered if Demna Gvasalia was doing what Alessandro Michele has done to Gucci with the development of a very specific, very peculiar aesthetic: one that doesn’t change, but does get a new layer every season.
The opening looks — a ton of outerwear (coats in particular) that appear as if they were wrongly fastened by a child all the way up the models’ left shoulders (or is this a political statement? Leaning so far left!), and sock boots — could very well have existed in the last spring collection. The lineup, which includes creative waist belts and smart shirts, pants that actually fit and more of those floral dresses (too irresistible to stick your nose up at), speaks to the very deliberate work being done at this house and makes for enough progression to call this one of the most refreshing shows on the fashion calendar.
The original idea of this post was to point out what trends we could expect to see dominate the American market over the next 24 months (sunglasses that look like 3D-viewing tools, white tights, bright tights, those paper booties you wear over your shoes — only not, because they’re satin, a dramatic pointed toe, enormous handbags a la Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, uneven hem coats, more floral prints); such is the power of Balenciaga in 2017.
In the final eight looks, Gvasalia acknowledged his masterful dexterity as a designer beyond artistic concept. Some people shout vulgar, and often I am one of them, but for the house’s 100th anniversary, he revived eight archival pieces that underscored his uniquely accurate understanding of the house. These dresses may as well have been designed by Cristobal, but they weren’t. They are relics of the new Balenciaga, which I see now is not a bastardization of the old Balenciaga — rather, an updated version.
We get so caught up in preserving history that we forget it ended for a reason, that evolution has yet to prove the progression of time wrong.
Photos via Vogue Runway.