It sort of adds up: the whispering tingle of Serge Gainsbourg on the soundtrack, the smart-looking shoulders, the mix of Persian blue and kelly green, the draped satin dress in a blend of colors. Today’s Balenciaga show was all about Yves.
Even the setting, in a salon room at the Crillon Hotel, seemed a nod to Yves Saint Laurent, who used to present his haute couture collections at a nearby hotel. And yet, considering how many designers have been influenced by Saint Laurent, this was a very good show on its own merits, an interpretation by a pro who understands the connections between one designer and another, between one generation and the next. Nicolas Ghesquiere has always looked to the women around him; his early collections at Balenciaga captured a style he saw on the street, and Saint Laurent himself was similarly influenced.
A virtue of this collection — certainly from the perspective of sales — is that the overall look is softer and more frankly feminine than Ghesquiere’s recent collections. The main event is the draped skirt or (even better) the draped trousers in dark satin; they ripple softly over the hips and taper down the leg. One pair was shown with a tailored jacket in black wool with black satin draped on the lower half. Another black blazer, showed with a black lace bandeau top, came out with dark gray striped pants. In a sense, Ghesquiere made his mark with trousers, and it’s great to see him again make a statement with them.
The other news was the draped coat dress, in black wool but predominantly in spotty, splashy prints, which Ghesquiere said after the show were inspired by the Balenciaga archive. Suede heels came in a blend of colors, typically with a swag of satin at one side.One wonders if Ghesquiere has long harbored an itch to interpret Saint Laurent. He bided his time, and chose his motifs carefully. Still, this is a modern Balenciaga collection through and through.