BEHIND THE SEAMS
Balenciaga is a brand that has been pushing fashion forward almost continuously since its establishment in 1914 by Cristobal Balenciaga. While the house was dormant for most of the seventies and eighties and quiet for a better part of the nineties, it’s been humming along reasonably healthily since Nicolas Ghesquière took over as head designer in 1997. While Balenciaga and Ghesquière’s collections focus much of their energy on innovation, there seems to be a sympathetic awareness to the fact that someone is supposed to eventually wear their creations. Take for example the drawing above which illustrates the infrastructure of a 1965 dress (left) where ribbons maintain the fit and the pleat of a sleeve as the wearer moves. The dress doesn’t exactly look like it would be easy to wear but Mr. Balenciaga has taken pains to ensure that it is.
I attempted to find similar interior rigging in present-day Balenciaga garments but with no such luck (and having magically avoided the attention of the saleswoman) took a few pieces into the dressing room anyway. I really can’t explain the feeling of being shrink wrapped into these clothes but by some strange technological alchemy, Ghesquière has managed to make it happen. Apparently, Cristobal lives and his name is Nicolas. Perhaps this is why the brand is as beloved by women as it is by fashion critics.
While we’re on the topic of Balenciaga…
As a ‘fashion person’ it’s uncomfortable for me to admit that I frequently find newness challenging. In the time it takes to adjust to and embrace a new idea, the industry has moved onto the next season. If you wait but a moment to decide whether something will fit into your wardrobe long-term and especially when you invest in high-end designer ready-to-wear on a limited basis, it’s already off into the two-dimensional annals of Style.com. Forever! Luckily, the clever folks at Balenciaga have two diffusion lines that offer remedies for the heartbreaking effects of indecision:
- Balenciaga Black Dress offers interpretations of past Ghesquière collection dresses in, you guessed it, black. At least if you miss something lovely one season you can hope that it will appear reincarnated in some form down the line.
- Balenciaga Edition offers the same chance to snap up a classic but from collections decades old (and without the musty smell). You can be sure these clothes will stand the test of time because they already have. This coat featured below is from 1966 but looks like it trotted down the runway yesterday.