"Nicolas Ghesquière’s collection offered a master class in proportions, color, textile innovation, and the judicious use of print.
The spirit of Cristóbal Balenciaga was subtly threaded through the show, and Ghesquière of course has greater entitlement than any to the conceptual fashion legacy of the eponymous founder of his house, whose influence has permeated a number of other collections this season. But it is always intriguing to see what Ghesquière will do with these inspirations—and the absolute modernity and novelty that he invariably manages to achieve, even when he looks back in time.
Recently Nicolas visited the two exhibitions exploring the impact of Spanish culture on its native son (at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute in New York, and the de Young in San Francisco, which, in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I curated), and it was fascinating to see what he brought away from the experience. “I was inspired by the utilitarian influence,” he explained. “What clicked for me was the sailor thing” —referring to the practical elegance of the workwear of the fishermen and peasants of Balenciaga’s Basque homeland—“and the volume thing: the idea of architecture floating.”
For Ghesquière, this meant translating those boxy Balenciaga volumes into jackets pieced from geometric slices and segments of stiff 1960s haute couture fabrics—like thick silk ziberline and ribbed ottoman—given even greater body by modern bonding techniques so that they looked like very luxurious scuba textiles. (Ghesquière spent more than a year recreating a novelty fringed cellophane tinsel originally developed for the house in the sixties, that looked as captivatingly modern as the Cadillac-winged shoes and the armfuls of Lucite bangles.)
Those boxy jackets were worn with abbreviated shorts that were folded into the waistband—more couture flou drapery techniques were used on contemporary wardrobe staples like a sleeveless tee or a drainpipe-leg denim pant. Ghesquière used elements of sixties mother-of-the-bride colors—melon, cyclamen, chartreuse—but mixed these with tarnished silver, white, and black so that they seemed more anime cartoon than Lady Bird Johnson.
Similarly, the vibrant silk foulard prints, glowing with images taken from Medieval stained-glass windows, were toned down with solid-color pockets and worn with those draped shorts in black, or with Ghesquière’s chic new jean.
The finale looks were crowned with vast-brimmed hats inspired by Balenciaga’s 1967 bride—and in turn derived from a fisherman’s protective sou’wester. These hats shaded trapeze dresses patched from pieces of differently patterned black- and ivory-silk crepe, their hems weighted and stiffened with deep bands of rough suede or heavy lacquered satin that helped them swing and bounce in movement like a whirling dervish’s robes—truly capturing Ghesquière’s notion of “architecture floating.” "   Hamish Bowles [via]

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