The main focus for S/S 17 at Balenciaga was outerwear. A smart move by Demna Gvasalia. Sure, there is the blouse, the boot – and the hoodie! But the coat – and an overall focus on investment outerwear – is not only a solid business move, but it makes the brand much more visible on the streets too. Yet again, marketing rules the mind of this commercial master.
Alexander Wang may have been trying to make a bag happen here at Balenciaga – but it seems that Gvasalia could be on the verge of success. As well as the market bag, seen here now approaching the upper echelons of ornate, there was a squat leather punch-bag number. Maison Margiela are making a go of it too, also presenting a rather large handbag this season. Gosh, it’s starting to feel like the noughties all over again.
The thigh high boot – another go-to for Gvasalia – looked great here. Elsewhere, the architectural line was continued via spandex leggings, in shades of near-fluro red, bubblegum pink or vanilla. Other tones in the collection were equally as unapologetic. One look was colour blocked in purple, fuchsia and pale blue. The most desirable looks arrived in stunning, ruched silk blouses, styled with heirloom cocktail broaches. As near to vintage as so much of today’s fake vintage is, these brooch designs were actually borrowed from the Cristóbal archives. Fashion, the increasingly seasonless machine that it is, also saw Balenciaga offer us lots of leather gloves for S/S 17.
Prints are also cleverly becoming an important code for the designer – both at his own label and here at Balenciaga. Now we can put those candy cane legs from A/W 16 behind us and concentrate on the super cool, ladylike florals. On the right side of haute garish, these seventies inspired art nouveau prints were right on the money.
Spandex and PVC trench coats lent a subversive, seedy edge, whilst sou’westers and hooded anoraks continued the waterproof theme. One hooded pussy-bow blouse was like a twisted Little Red Riding hood for grown ups. The show notes talked about 'the thrill of fetishism.'
The silhouette held firm from last season. The shoulders, ever square and ever strong, are starting to look less like a concept - and more like a wearable shape. Whether they are slightly softer, or our eye is starting to adjust - regardless – they look good. Cristóbal Balenciaga may have made the most of the omitted waistline, but here the looks were mostly were cinched, belted or bound.
The casting was so much more modern this season. More connective and inclusive - it’s finally starting to look like the intelligent house that it is.