BALENCIAGA: COUTURE AW21
We are a long way from Paris here in Sydney but the fashion moment was felt 12,000kms away from the epicenter of creativity. In what was the first couture presentation since 1967 for Balenciaga, 50th for the House and Demna Gvasalia’s first couture collection, it offered us a new strong, clean, sculpted post-pandemic vision of beautiful modern clothes. The best. And they kept coming. There were minimal tricks, expert tailoring, discrete hand embroidery and the few accessories really elevated the clear, clean lines. The UF0/interplanetary scaled Philip Treacy hats added a perfectly proportioned swagger to this statement of where we might be going in 2020’s.
“For me, it’s a new era – the beginning of something different in my design career,” Demna told 10 Magazine. “Most people put me in a box as someone who designs hoodies and sneakers and that is really not who I am. For me, it was important to use this opportunity to show myself as a designer.” And show us he did with both the mix of menswear and womenswear framing strong shoulders and elegant necklines. And who would have thought that the mermaid dress would become dress of the season.
“It was my minute of silence to the heritage of Cristóbal Balenciaga and also to honour the past and his legacy which is unique. It is also a moment to just shut up for a minute – for fashion in general – and to look at itself in the mirror and to think ‘what’s next?’. Of course it was literally over a minute and the collection was presented in silence save for the rustling of the stiffened silks, and the whisper of the softly wrapped ‘terrycloth’ bathrobes that were in fact made from micro-knifed leather. Pre-show the Balenciaga Instagram was rebirthed too and beginning again with the final look 63.
The choice of models and the way they walked reflected the original too as recorded by American Vogue’s editor in Paris Bettina Ballard in the late 1950s, “He [Balenciaga] is as uncompromising in his choice of mannequins as he is with his clothes… mannequins are disciplined as is everyone in the house…” Focused. Determined. There were direct references to iconic Balenciaga Couture pieces with a dress in twisted lace and tulle; opera gloves and parkas and a floral-embroidered gown that was inspired by an archival piece originally made for Jacqueline Kennedy. The final exceptionally simple veiled bridal look was a take on one of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s last designs, which was was presented 54 years ago and now totally today.