Looking at the Balenciaga collection up close (and inside out) is always one of the highlights of my week during the Paris collections. A few days after the show, I head over to the studio on the Left Bank when buyers are writing their orders.
Creative Director, Nicholas Ghesquiere, always amazes me with his fabric and construction techniques. Many described his show last week as “punk” but I was told it highlighted “unconventional beauties” of the early 90s. Think of the quirky young beauty of Kate Moss or Stella Tennant, and the disheveled grunge music of the time. Tennant walked in his show the week before. Now she’s a 40 year old mother of four but with her cropped hair messy and gelled and her signature stomp in place, she fit in with the other “novelty” models Ghesquiere hired, including some girls he admired on the street and top models such as Carolyn Murphy, a pregnant Miranda Kerr and show-closer (and new mother) Gisele Bundchen.
The Kurt Cobain inspiration shows in a combed long-hair pullover sweater fused with shiny bonded silk stripes, and paired with a stiff net vintage slip-like skirt. The pieces have a couture-level quality – such as a PVC topper with multi-colour front panels that appear to have been melted and bubbled into place. Neon lace accents trim boyish blouses. Turning one inside out, I notice that the garment gets its shape from leather facings and a lining of transparent sequins that also add a subtle shimmer.
Balenciaga is known for its quirky skyscraper shoes designed in collaboration with Pierre Hardy. This season, in keeping with the early 90s theme, they reminded me of up-scale Doc Martens – these ones with cut-away backs and sides and finished with a lacquered patent body. The classic Lariat handbag, a big seller, was reworked in a variety of colours in python and canvas. There’s no doubt that, once again, Balenciaga will be an inspiration for fast-fashion manufacturers for spring.