PFW AW16: Balenciaga

BALENCIAGA is back. It’s bold, brilliant and – due to all this creative upheaval – it just about feels like Balenciaga again. Stepping in as recently appointed creative director is Demna Gvasalia, of the fashion brand currently taking Paris by storm, Vetements.

Faced with the task of completely reinvigorating Balenciaga following Alexander Wang’s rather unsurprising departure finally confirmed in October, Gvasalia has put change well underway for AW16 without wasting any time at all. Doing so with marvellous gusto the designer has seemed to quite masterfully ushered Cristobal, founder of the house, Balenciaga’s sublime and solidly couture signatures into 2016.





Taking this high-fashion tailoring to the streets, and vice versa, Gvasalia has stunned, if not slightly bemused, the fashion pack. Two-piece suits in stony checked flannels opened the show rather mundanely to the naked eye, but look twice and one will soon pick up on the very, very subtly engorged pannier hips of the structured suits – making it a Balenciaga suit unmistakably.

Next, Gvasalia stretched features, such as the hood, of mountain-gear outwear to high-drama fashion proportions and then continuing cavalcade progression, moved on to brillo-pad sweater dresses paired with sunglasses hooked with chunky pendulous chain lanyards.




The rest of the collection saw roll upon roll of bulbous puffa-jacket outerwear and platform-heeled vinyl boots takes proportions to the kind of wild extremes that once, a long time ago, sartorially stimulated Monsieur Balenciaga. Coming to its close the 44 piece stellar first effort on the part of Gvasalia also didn’t go without more attractive and accessible wearability. A handful of leather trenches with nifty touches of fur were a wise move to ensure the more flabbergasted members of the fashion pack didn’t lose total faith.



Two things are now key for Gvasalia moving forward. Refinement for one, especially in the case of his first effort, as trying to cram in too many out of place floral motifs came off completely awry. This made his first effort seem a tad too much of a mish mash which, after all, should be one coherent collection. The second point on Gvasalia’s to-do list, written in bold, underlined and highlighted, should be the word diversity and this out of not just common, but good sense. In an industry that in 2016 should be all-encompassing in it’s concious stance to reflect the world we live in and the people we are opening up the industry to, it’s frankly shocking that diversity should be a talking point raising so many eyebrows amongst the fashion pack. Listen and learn Gvasalia.

Nevertheless, all that can be concluded now is that Balenciaga has made a bouncy and pretty ground-breaking return at Paris Fashion Week. Despite Balenciaga maybe having less to lose, other fashion houses who have recently wound up creative director-less – not naming names – should perhaps take note of how to make a quick and ingenious comeback for the sake of preserving not just a brand, but an institution.

by Liam Feltham

Images courtesy of Balenciaga