It has been a very busy evening in Paris. My eyes had barely had time to adjust to the light and reality from the Maison Margiela show before I turned around and discovered the Balenciaga runway was starting without me. I normally try to avoid directly mentioning any celebrities in attendance since I largely find them distracting and extremely unnecessary to what we are to watch, especially when pseudo-celebrities have done absolutely nothing worthy of the attention. I must make an exception here, though, for Lady Gaga was not only in attendance at the Balenciaga show, she did her own mini-runway presentation on her way in, wearing many of the same pieces would we see on the runway just a few minutes later. Gaga is a huge fan of Balenciaga designer Alexander Wang and was heavily promoting the show on Twitter as though she were part of the PR team.
Like Gaga, this Balenciaga collection is a merging of the dramatic with the traditional. There are some very traditional elements here, such as tulip skirts so tight that models had some difficulty walking in them, and bustier dresses that didn’t pose a great problem for the nearly bustless models, but could pose some serious challenges for anyone more buxom than a B cup. There is plenty of classic embellishments such as impeccable embroidery, brooches, and hair buns.
Then, there were the pins. I have to single out these pins for a couple of reasons. First, they are nothing short of gorgeous, a touch of old-world luxury re-done in contemporary style and used intelligently throughout the collection. I only see one problem: these pins are potential weapons. As beautiful as they are, I would have to think twice and really trust someone tremendously before encouraging them to wear an ensemble relying heavily on one of these pins. Wang uses them to fasten dresses, skirts, and cloaks so for the pieces to which they are attached they are absolutely necessity. However, I have to wonder what level of chaos would ensue should one wear one of these pin-laden garments to the airport? I can’t image, given the fuss and furor over comparatively small things such as bottles of shampoo, that they’re going to let one of those pins through security. Neither can I encourage allowing them in the possession of anyone with a quick, hot temper. I can foresee things ending very badly for the lover on the wrong end of one of those pins.
Yes, I just let my imagination run wild as I saw pin after pin after pin come down the runway. That mix of classicism with a rough edge seems to be what Wang was after, though. Midst all those details, we find him frequently using staples as fasteners. There is a subversiveness to the silhouettes, almost as though he is turning some inside out (he’s not). This is a collection meant for being outdoors at night, the heroine rushing from crisis to crisis, rather than ballroom to ballroom.
Alexander Wang is slowly but surely making his imprint on the Balenciaga brand, moving it gently forward while being careful to respect its history and reputation. This is a very strong collection that should do well. Obviously, Lady Gaga approves and you know you’ve always wanted to dress just like her. Just watch out for those pins.