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Armani Conquers China, Chastises the Pope June 01st, 2012 @ 11:53 AM



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Balenciaga: Ennobling Domesticity

Godfrey Deeny
March 04th, 2010 @ 00:45 AM - Paris

Gaudy graphics, packaging, and cheap labels were the unlikely raw materials in the latest keenly awaited runway show from Balenciaga.

Product names and even health warnings played roles in blouses, tops and the interior lining of jumpsuits in Balenciaga’s fall 2010 women’s ready-to-wear collection presented Thursday, March 4, in the Hotel Crillon in central Paris.

“I wanted to use modest, domestic elements but ennoble them into something fashionable,” explained Balenciaga’s designer Nicolas Ghesquiere after the show, held amidst extremely tight security due to the presence of French Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterrand.

A color palette one more normally associates with seeing on the shelves of a discount supermarket ran through this whole collection, like neoprene tops in a green toothpaste tube hues or macramé leather jackets in the sort of pink toilet paper is usually wrapped.

Yet, though the colors were definitely populist, the results – in particular craftily cut, and articulated at the knee, sky pants or tunic tops with multi-band mixes of fabrics – were often pretty extraordinarily elegant.

The designer added that he was influenced by the work of French video and installation artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, who also happens to design Balenciaga’s recent boutiques.

Like this artist’s recent work - video projections and sound “environment” where viewers ramble through computer-generated abstract landscapes - this collection at times looked as if it had been designed for creatures from another planet. Mimicking the clothes, famed makeup artist Pat McGrath gave the models green and blue eyebrows.

Though this might sound a tad absurd, the images were striking and, seeing as Ghesquire is widely regarded as one of the most influential designers in fashion, expect women this fall to look a little more extra-terrestrial.

“We used modest materials like polyamide or nylon with expensive ones like cashmere or agora. I wanted that mix to show how cheap can become dignified,” Ghesquiere told a pack of journalists backstage before being interrupted by the arrival of Mitterrand.

“Quel beau défilé,” pronounced Mitterrand, meaning “what a beautiful fashion show,” before a half dozen heavies hustled the minister out of the packed backstage.

It was, but overall this collection felt too much like Balenciaga Lite. There were plenty of ideas, yet also the sense that this designer was revamping his own oeuvre, albeit with some improbable fabrics. This was Ghesquiere several points off his "A" game.

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