For Fall/Winter 2017, Balenciaga's archives held strong influence over runway looks that included nine couture gowns resurrected directly from past lookbooks.
At the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa in Guipúzcoa, Spain there is a children’s activity offered called “From Plane to Volume”, where they are tasked with creating two-dimensional geometric figures and then translating them into three-dimensional pieces that can fit the human body. It’s a rather beautiful notion that a child’s first experience with the incredible works of Balenciaga is learning how to navigate the immense silhouettes he pioneered. It’s the same for many of us who fell hard and fast for Balenciaga’s experimental, neoteric silhouettes and stubborn refusal to join the status quo.
For Fall/Winter 2017, nine of his most incredible works, formerly lost to time, have been lovingly reimagined in modern fabrics for the brand’s 100th anniversary. Demna Gvasalia found them while diving into 30 years worth of archival lookbooks, deciding that now is the perfect time to resurrect the most impressive, billowing forms that once shaped the future of Balenciaga. There is an innocent charm to these poufy masterpieces, some rendered in naive shades of pink or prissy polka dots, but their modern identity means they look as current today as they did 30 years ago.
Gvasalia’s devotion to the archives didn’t stop there, in fact, the collection began with another moment from the lookbooks, creatively reinterpreted in sartorial form. The designer, taken with the way that some of Balenciaga’s models draped a coat over their shoulder as they posed for the camera, created outerwear that captured the same drape so that the neck and collar sat askew and tumbled down the side of the body. Paired with stocking heels with sharply-pointed toes and massive earrings, Gvasalia assembled yet another uniform for the painfully fashionable.
As fashion enters a new era of excess, Gvasalia is the one lighting the way while holding a torch for Balenciaga that has only grown brighter under modern scrutiny.
Volumes that were big to begin with grew larger and more intimidating as the show progressed with tent-like dresses bearing the scrawl of floral prints and gold chains. However, these potent prints took a turn for the miniature before the 10 couture looks appeared at the finale, done in shrunken silhouettes that looked youthful and fresh. The Margiela-influenced side of Gvasalia emerged as wrap-skirts created from rubber car mats – the old made new again through creative recycling. As fashion enters a new era of excess, Gvasalia is the one lighting the way while holding a torch for Balenciaga that has only grown brighter under modern scrutiny.