by Alex Fury .

PARIS FASHION WEEK: Balenciaga Showroom

Even before Star Trek and the Cold War Space Race, Cristobal Balenciaga's remit was always to go where no man had gone before. Nicolas Ghesquiere continues this house tradition, albeit often more in the vein of Balenciaga's decidedly Sci Fi protege Andre Courreges. This season, Ghesquiere was inspired by light: its refraction, reflection and perhaps the potential for us to travel at its speed - at least in fashion terms. His collection seagued from space pod to solar panel via Kubrick's vision of 2001. The opening pale mini-dresses ruched around a solid core were seemingly crafted from some futuristic hybrid flesh-fabric, but in the showroom this morphed into resolutely old-school stretch georgette and silk organza, gathered, stiffened and boned in the age-old couture traditions. His pleated dresses and jackets, with metallic foiled prints applied over the top were extraordinay, but at the same time minimally contructed to feel as light as they looked, while vacuum-packed and patchworked leather managed to straddle the tricky divide between headline-grabbing novelty and heirloom luxury. Alongside these showpieces were the core of Balenciaga's selling collection: the shapes and seaming of those solar panel jackets were translated into chantilly lace with taped seams, while the holographic prints became irridescent sheens on achingly desirable yet still directional chunky crocodile accessories.

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