The House of Balenciaga has long reigned as fashion’s primary innovator. Cristóbal Balenciaga – a consummate couturier who couldn’t resist the element of surprise – gave us the sack dress, the balloon dress, the tunic, and the babydoll. He turned a model into a walking rose by wrapping her head and upper torso in black gazar, and finished a wedding dress with a monk’s hood. To keep true to the Balenciaga aesthetic, one must have the finesse of a couturier, the desire to push fashion into the future, and the ability to innovate. Alexander Wang is proving to be adept at all of these traits. He is careful to let Balenciaga signatures remain in place – tidy chignons, weird sleeves, bulky shapes, futuristic silhouettes – while intelligently incorporating his preference for youthful ease, street style, and American sportswear.
The blending of Wang and Balenciaga codes has resulted in increased sales for the brand.
The blending of Wang and Balenciaga codes has resulted in increased sales for the brand, which in turn has encouraged the young designer to confidently flex some muscle for Fall/Winter 2014. At Paris Fashion Week, he presented an electric collection of colorful, sporty separates and introduced Balenciaga’s audience to the brand’s notion of knitwear. This is where innovation took place as Wang presented a variety of impactful technical knits, which enhanced the texture and variety of his weird and wonderful coats, slim trousers, and graphic frocks. Stand-out looks included skirts made from a black-and-white macramé weave, wool jackets with swollen sleeves, beaver-fur vests, glossy ski coats, and shapely leather dresses softened with knit details at the neck and waist. One modified, padded tuxedo jacket made model Hedvig Palm resemble David Byrne circa Stop Making Sense. This comparison is especially apropos since Byrne’s approach to fashion shares much in common with Balenciaga, particularly in their mutual penchant for taking costuming to unexpected extremes, while pushing an avant-garde notion of creativity to new limits. For Fall/Winter 2014, new textiles and vibrant colors met with eccentric forms to carry out a new message for the brand, and the message is youthful, smart, and instantly desirable.
Photos: Courtesy of GoRunway