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Balenciaga: True and False Futurism

Godfrey Deeny
September 30th, 2010 @ 1:08 PM - Paris

It was hard to know what you were looking at in the latest runway show by Balenciaga, on Thursday, Sept. 30, so quirky was the take on fashion and so hard to take in were the various mixes of woven plastic and fake leather, embroidered cottons and sequined silks.

Whatever the contrasts in fabrics and shapes, this collection is sure to be one of the half-dozen most influential shows in fashion, one whose ambitious juxtaposition of scaly sequins and hard silvery metallics with arty graphics and studded leather will set a strong style agenda worldwide.

Staged in the Hotel Crillon in central Paris, the collection was futurist, yet never too much so. There was a constant nodding of heads along the front-row of the twisting catwalk, as the editors, stylists and critics drank in the collection with their eyes – from plasticized silk woven dresses under sunset red leather motorbike jackets to the black punky, short trousers and gentlemanly dress shirts with front tails that will be de rigueur purchases.

Quirkiness was apparent in the culottes made of plastic, or the short skirts that were semi sheer almost to the crotch. But the mood never strayed into the farcical. There was not one weak look in this collection, backed with suitable gravitas by music from Handel.

“The black and white check was a gift from Cristobal,” explained Balenciaga’s designer Nicolas Ghesquiere, referring to the house’s founder.

Ghesquiere can also boast the best choice of footwear of any spring 2011 show so far – part chopped up Dr. Martens boot, part ski boot inspired, his key look came in neon red and electric blue metallic leather, while a series of day glow candy colored sneakers or heavily fringed booties will also be surefire winners.

“It was partly borrowed from the men’s wardrobe, but darker, twisted. But it was also about individuality, like the choice of the girls – young models, street casting and famous names. Having different generations is a newer concept of beauty for me,” the designer added.

Adding to the sense of event, the show starred a foursome of veteran super models – Amber Valletta, Caroline Murphy, Stella Tennant and Gisele Bundchen, who looked thoroughly happy as she took the finale passage in a white bib shirt and largely transparent skirt, ending an epic show of sophistication – the sort that only ever really happens in Paris.

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