PFW: Balenciaga, from archives to car mirrors
Anyone who was anyone in high fashion trudged up in the rain to the Espace Champeret Sunday morning to witness the fall/winter 2017 Balenciaga collection. It was staged in a huge exhibition space before some 400 guests. Not one of them will have been disappointed.
Gvasalia has caused a sensation in contemporary fashion with his combination of exaggerated volumes – which is defining today's silhouette – with a selection of mass market imagery and utilitarian workwear.
This morning, Demna – which is how everyone addresses him – took his vision to new heights. Gone were the freaky, Bastille clubbers from his earlier catwalks and in came top new runway beauties and experienced pros. Oddly enough, there was even a small demo outside calling for more models of color in the show. Which seemed entirely redundant as Alec Wek, possibly the most famous African model of the past 15 years, was in the show. She left smiling at the end, like all the cast, each of whom was given a huge bouquet of flowers. Yet another fashion first.
Using a series of lookbooks that founder Cristobal Balenciaga had created and his successor found in the archives, Gvasalia sent out checked coats, velour animal prints capes and mannish tops coats, deliberately incorrectly buttoned to add to the offbeat sense of volume. His sense of logo was impeccable: using the name along the outside of red fabric pumps and indeed across the entire (and enormous) gray carpet of the show. Plus his accessories had great gusto: whether a striking new multi-key bracelet, or the new bags made of car wing-mirrors.
"It's an essential part of Paris, since everyone loses their car mirror sometime, there are so many Vespas. I wanted that sense of humor," said Gvasalia.
This much is clear, in the past several years there has been no appointment of any designer whose skills so well match a house as Gvasalia at Balenciaga.
The label is also on the move in terms of retail, with a flagship opening planned for this summer on Madison Avenue. And business is booming on rue du Faubourg St Honoré, ever since that boutique reopened with Demna's clean chrome steel and glass redesign, the store has enjoyed one-third increases in business each month.
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