Balenciaga Grows up for Fall/Winter 2019

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Balenciaga – you either get it or you don’t.

Creative Director Demna Gvasalia has produced shoes that resemble french fry cartons, designed skirts made from rubber mats, and recreated the Ikea bag and sold it for $2,000. How often does Balenciaga have to end up on “most absurd” listicles before you start wondering if all this is one big joke. It’s not. The brand actually sells like crazy.

Gvasalia is a genius for viral product creation – the ‘Knife’ shoe and ‘Triple-S’ sneaker come to mind immediately – so maybe all that wacky stuff is just clickbait, a gateway to discovering the brand. Still, it’s some pretty strange stuff for a house that was founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga, one of the most influential couturiers of the 20th century. However, recent seasons have seen Gvasalia returning some substance to the runway. His direction has been more grown-up. Serious fashion for serious fashion people.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

Fall/Winter 2019 sees Gvasalia turning his back to street style and embracing tailoring. There was plenty, especially at the start, that you could wear in an office setting and not raise an eyebrow. The silhouette was strong and masculine, with articulated shoulders and a roomy fit. A palette of sober neutrals launched the show, but pops of color quickly came in the form of a glossy liquid leather coat and double-breasted blazer in teal.

Fall/Winter 2019 sees Gvasalia turning his back to street style and embracing tailoring.

Suiting and outerwear quickly established themselves as the core of the collection, but a few printed minidresses seemed out of place in the line-up. A variety of chic separates appeared with rolled necklines and stiff ‘incognito’ collars that framed the face, a motif echoed later in a bulky fur jacket in electric turquoise. As the show progressed, the outerwear grew in size – massive padded and quilted versions appeared, looking for all their worth like wearable sleeping bags.

Eveningwear pickings were slim, but this area is never really a focus for Gvasalia. One spectacularly dazzling silver-tinseled gown appeared, and more than made up for the lack of traditionally pretty pieces on the runway. It was joined by a few glittering, body-conscious pieces that closed the show, almost as if to prove that volume wasn’t the only story here.

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