Thursday, March 11, 2010

Balenciaga Fall 2010: If only I were a Drag Queen!

Nicolas Ghesquière is not my hero, or let's put it like this: I'm not a senseless Trendzilla who's worshipped at his alter. I appreciate his talent and the fact that he has been a driving force behind what we now know as modern style. The last two collections for Balenciaga have captured my attention and have shown him to be much more than a one trick pony. There's been a romanticism to his vision that has all but realigned his power base as a designer with multiple sides to his aesthetic. It all comes down to maturing and growing into his metier. They use that word over there and it is too often unjustified. This collection opened my eyes and mind to a man with a message and a mission that has real value beyond his ability to merely seduce editors. Let's face it, editors are only one part of the equation. Clearly, Nicholas gets that when you consider that he uninvited Team Paris Vogue to even view it let alone use it, shoot it, or wear it. That takes nerve and his are made of titanium.

The first clue to the genius of the collection were not his attempts to tame Yeti, though his efforts were valiant. The big news were the knits that came in a parade of a brilliant striped dress and 2 piece looks in color combinations that said, "Buy me, take me, steal me if you must". They were so right and the mix of colors so audacious that I doubt they'll make it to the sales floor. Those looks will be sold off the back of the truck before Receiving can sign them in. They look just that right. The shapes are architectural in the Balenciaga oeuvre, which is no small feat for knits. There weren't any knits in any collection this season that for me were as beautiful, practical and absolutely modern. I could have watched ten more walk down that runway and not been bored. He created interesting 2 piece ensembles in knit that played on the Trapeze and both tops and bottoms resolving themselves at the hems as knitted lace. They were simple, feminine, masterful and effortless.

Suits were in padded, strict shapes that defined the body rigorously but looked comfortable referencing the next millennium. Even a couple of the suits that 'growled' were still beautiful in their technique and his ability to push forward an idea without shoving it beyond comprehension or delight. They were less primal Yeti, and more the Swiss finishing school species.In this case, we're talking real fur and not Fantasy fur, but it was handled with a very light and expert hand, something that many designers were unable to manage. The collection was not large and that added to its impact. There were quilted pant suits with crisp short jackets that paired with high waisted trousers that unzipped revealing a colorful graphic lining. Several of these came in succession and were for me a bit outre, but they made sense as part of the whole. These looks scream editorial but they also whisper masterful technique and a very fertile imagination. His use of jackets with sleeves to be worn or not was a clever device that worked well in some cases and not so much in others. All in all, I was happily surprised and felt like I'd learned and seen something new.

This was Balenciaga for the future and not one so easily identified with the past. The language was intact, but the poetry was fresh.


Anonymous said...

I love reading your column, but your assessment of NG and Balcengia is a bit passe. He has been one the most original designers in existence today. His collections are unique and influential. He has always had a distinct vision for the house. If anything, NG as been gifted with a talented team at Balenciaga that can translate his vision into consistently wearable collections. No Drag queen necessary to appreciate his vision.

Unknown said...

Anonymous I don't think you took the time to read the assessment...perhaps just the headline?
It is an overwhelmingly praiseworthy review...

And by the way...what the hell does "no drag queen necessary" mean. It is as if you take drag queen be pejorative, which is silly. Fluff is simply saying the clothes are so yummy he wish he could wear them!

Smarten up

Fluff Chance said...

Dear Gaston,
Thank you. I'm glad you got it. That was precisely my feeling.