Friday, June 24, 2016

BEAUTY: Clothing--Balenciaga

For Balenciaga's first-ever actual menswear runway show at Paris Fashion Week (the house has only ever shown lookbooks for collections), newly appointed creative director Demma Gvasalia sent out a furiously arresting SS '17 collection based on an unfinished coat he found in the Balenciaga archives. Cristóbal Balenciaga had actually made the coat for himself but had never finished Gvasalia did it for him, nearly 50 years later. Balenciaga was known for sparse, geometrical designs and this coat certainly falls within that purview. We don't really know exactly what the original coat looked like, but I think it is safe to assume that it had some of the same boxiness and volume so Gvalasia could riff. And riff he has done with a startling silhouette. The enormous shoulders and roomy cut of coats and jackets are brilliantly contrasted with cinched pieces plastered to the body. He has used a trick that all god artists should know and that is that when you contrast two things, that contrast highlights both original objects, making them stand out even more. The tight trousers and shorts make the roomy outerwear seem even bigger and the tight bodice-like tops are paired beautifully with loose, flowing trousers. And a fascinating detail slipped in late in the collection along with saturated jewel-toned fabrics actually sourced from a supplier who furnishes fabric for the Vatican: we see a bit of a white lace apron peeking out from under coats, lending an ecclesiastical flair. One wonders how and why this motif was discreetly added, although fashion journalist Alexander Fury links it to Cristóbal Balenciaga's devout Catholicism...but for me, when I hear of his devout Catholicism, all I can think of is the fact that he was a gay man, closeted to the world, participating in a religion that would have cast him out if had dared to share his true self. What a shame. But there was a sense of strange ceremony to the entire show--watch the video below, and listen for the strains of a liturgical choir creeping in just like the lace aprons.

And of course we cannot leave this collection without ogling the incredible shoes: a parade of amazing, knee-high, stacked-heel boots in velvet, leather, metallics, and python. WOW.

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