BALENCIAGA @ SS2014 Men & Women Collection

BALENCIAGA SS2014 menswear collection plays on cohesion and oppositions. For his first experiences in Balenciaga’s menswear world, Alexander Wang wanted to bring the men’s collection closer to that of the ladies for Spring 2014. The two collections share many details like metal safety pin closures: a nod to artist David Jablowsk’s "Common Object". The collections also share a sober color palette, and a quest for fluidity and movement as seen in the shirts and button-free jackets. In this desire for sharing, we note that Balenciaga introduces embroidery in its men’s collection for the first time, creating designs in relief that are almost 3D.

Like the women’s pre-collection, we discover references to the Maison’s couture heritage, creating tension with a nonchalant spirit for men who play not only with cohesion but also oppositions for summer 2014. The silhouette is constructed with contrasting volumes: a long and lean suit is paired with a voluminous Balenciaga overcoat, and fluid pleated trousers are worn with a structured jacket cut close to the body.

 Traditional materials like wool, silk, mohair and cotton are combined with nylon, PVC and other technical materials. Glossy fabrics contrast with matte and dry ones. Fluidity goes along with structured lines, and a mousseline shirt is worn with a leather blazer. Day and night are also contrasted, with a tuxedo worn over a simple T-shirt. Contrasts are present even within individual garments, with silk trousers sporting a leather belt. There are few prints; instead we see optical play, in a tribute to California artists James Turrel, Larry Bell and Robert Irwin’s work with light. Effects are obtained using changing materials, semi-transparencies and plastics striped with lasers to create crisscross effects. Another graphic idea is a latticework motif in a variety of sizes, from nano to macro, and from seersucker to wool with a tweed look.

For accessories, both shoes and leather goods are intentionally classic. For the first time, the menswear collection presents bags, paradoxically pairing classicism with nonchalance, with the businessman carrying his bag like a teen totes his skateboard. While exploring contemporary and legacy references, tension effects and a desire for cohesion, Balenciaga proposes a menswear collection for summer 2014 that’s both dynamic and urban. Perfectly suited to modern man’s highly mobile life, this wardrobe covers both hemispheres of the globe, for life in all climates, where summer and winter are in constant opposition.

For the Women SS2014 collection, Alexander Wang brings Balenciaga's signature style face-to-face with our contemporary era, building upon and extending the shapes and ideas found in the Pre-Spring 2014 Resort collection. Strict Balenciaga shapes and precision form the basis of the collection, but this time unravelled, deconstructed, carved and dislocated to bring an impression of movement and ease to the garments. 

This idea springs from a single snapshot taken by the seaside, in which the ebb and flow of the ocean partially buries colourful textiles under sand, juxtaposing the colours of the fabric with the neutral grains of sand, giving the visual impression of a colourful fossil. This image has been manipulated and worked into abstract prints in the Cristobal Balenciaga tradition. A vine print sourced from the archive has been manipulated to give a shadow effect.

This partly organic, partly artificial representation inspires the precision that is so dear to Balenciaga, with flawlessly accomplished fusions, enhancements or new twists on raw materials to create different fabrics. Viscose and Lurex are first pleated and then stitched to a base fabric, which is then cut out in an anarchic style. The result is a new kind of cloqué christened 'Crushed', a textured fabric that catches the shadows and which allows glimpses of bare skin.

Another example of a fabric reinvented for this collection is the result of a fusion between leather and knit to create texture. Widely featured in the collection, leather is embroidered, printed, braided or slashed with a pressurised micro water jet. These different leather techniques introduce a sport feel to this Balenciaga Spring-Summer 2014 collection, such as a two-tone leather mesh or bands of leather appliqué. The idea of transparency is also very important in the collection, but it takes a back seat to and consistent with Balenciaga's discreet aesthetic. Transparent organza plays with proportions while revealing elements of the body.

The silhouette is feminine and dynamic, the proportions are abbreviated and short. The Spring- Summer 2014 collection mainly consists of dresses or skirts, but where the silhouettes are presented in a more masculine spirit, trousers are cut in three lengths: shorts, Bermudas and trousers. The colour palette emphasizes contrasts; as in the Pre-Sping 2014 collection, the Balenciaga Spring-Summer collection contrasts blocks of deepest black and brightest white combined with the sensuality of pastel hues.


Accessories complete the silhouettes and bring together the whole spirit of the collection. They reflect the colour palette and motifs, with the shape and size of the bags extending the dynamic effect and the idea of deflated volumes. High-heeled sandals bring together feminine dance shoes and athletic shoe styling, in monochromatic combinations of satin, sport mesh and perforated leather. Jewelry and sunglasses with climbing vine motifs wrought in rose gold or palladium metal leaf lend a botanical touch in the organic world.

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