Balenciaga Debut Menswear Show – A Cut of Uniqueness.
Three words sum up the first ever Balenciaga Men’s show in Paris: Non-conformity, Displacement and Exaggeration.
The highly anticipated debut from the Spanish powerhouse had re-defined the world of men’s tailoring last Wednesday, on the first day of the Paris Men Fashion Week with striking, experimental cuts, and a stark deviation from the brand’s classic cuts.
Orchestrated by Demna Gvasalia, who took the reins of Balenciaga as artistic director in last October, created much buzz when he ushered in his usual skinhead models and donned them with similar oversized styles as his Vetements’ FW16 show.
Since the founding of the century-old aristocratic label by Cristóbal Balenciaga, the major influencer in haute couture has donned queens of Belgium and Spain, along with Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor in luxurious garments. Today, the luxury fashion house is taking over the fashion world by a storm with their bold statement pieces with Gvasalia’s lead.
Demna’s men’s debut was less polished and modern than Alexander Wang’s Balenciaga ever was. Taking inspiration from the original designs found in the company’s archive, Cristóbal Balenciaga’s ideas for his men’s line have finally materialised a century later.
Held on the roof of the prestigious Roman Catholic school Lycée Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, the venue was a perfectly apt venue in every sense – from the founder being a devote Catholic to the rigidity and preppy feel exuding from the collection.
Pushing back the idea of conformity, the showcase mark hulking silhouettes, androgyny and contrast pairings from extreme ends of the spectrum; either with extra-large frame 1980s-style shoulder pads draped over uncomfortably tight pants, or breath-inhibiting suits worn over baggy trousers and stacked heels.
The strong power-dressing message was further emphasised with models strutting up and down the podium with stoic expressions, dressed in a dull-coloured palette ranging from black to navy, with a few pieces in mint green or carmine being an exception. Adding to the contrast were the eye-popping knee-high wedged boots, Ikea-like totes, baseball caps, as well as shirts with bomber-jacket like elastic waist. The shoes were also done in loud finishes, such as python, white, black and even silver leather. With a majority of the unconventionally crafted pieces being overly niche, only the oversized trousers, totes and accessories such as wallet chains and caps are somewhat more commercially minded.
A lot was at stake at the Balenciaga Spring 2017 Men’s show. Although this historic event was an apparent tribute to Cristóbal Balenciaga’s architectural impulses, the influence from pairing gargantuan jackets with precariously tight pants was felt from Gvasalia’s Vetements to Martin Margiela, where he used to work for more than three years. As concealed as the large, linear silhouettes were, there was no distinct trend emerging from Balenciaga, even though the industry was given a glimpse of Gvasalia’s direction and may keep their eyes peeled for more radical tailoring to come.