BALENCIAGA @ Experimental Couture Women Pre-Fall 2014 Collection

BALENCIAGA Women Pre-Fall 2014 collection by Alexander Wang is an experimental hybrid of the couture volumes created by Cristobal Balenciaga and the modern language of 21st century performance wear, with its emphasis on utility and function. This “Techno-Couture” hybrid retains the legacy of radical innovation established by Cristobal Balenciaga in his time and extends this spirit into today’s era of digital speed and technology-driven urban life. Materials have been chosen to mix formality and function: luxurious astrakhan and tailored wool are juxtaposed against synthetic sport mesh and polyurethane patchwork. The color palette is mainly neutral. Peacock blue, plum, blue-gray and few touches of fluorescent associate to the deep black underscore the sharp silhouettes and graphic quality of the looks. The collection is comprised of separates to layer and mix in a contemporary way. Accessories and clothing silhouettes are strictly focused on fundamental geometric shapes: the rectangle, circle and triangle.

The first group of printed leather pieces embodies key themes of the collection: an eye on digital technology, the utilitarian language of performance wear and the curved lines of ergonomic design. A white leather “Engineer” jacket printed with inky-black stripes uses an intensive hand-weaving technique to achieve a pixelated effect at the waist. The same hand woven technique engineers the curves of a leather dress or skirt with a retighten waist. A black bonded wool sweatshirt becomes modern armor with spiral embroidered sleeves - a new design twist in the BALENCIAGA DNA. Tailored “Snowboard Trousers” laced at the ankle with climbing rope adds a touch of sport to everyday wear.

Research in computer-guided knitting techniques have yielded “Synthetic Landscape” graphics and new “Vanishing Jacquard” mesh tops paired with classic pleated wool trousers. An ash gray “Technic” coat is one of the essential anchors of “Techno-Couture,” with an instantly recognizable Cocoon silhouette created by Cristobal Balenciaga. Cut from masculine gabardine, the familiar rounded shape tips towards techno with the addition of polyurethane patchwork and Framis-taped seams typically used in outdoor performance wear to protect the body in extreme conditions.

 A gray pantsuit in wool-mohair combines fine masculine tailoring with digital-era details: aqua-zip sleeves, geometric darts following phosphorescent fabric or latex-bonded panels. A densely knit “Cocoon Scarf” alludes to the capes dear to Cristobal Balenciaga but adds function and warmth.

The last group of looks in this “Techno-Couture” collection re-examines the experimental cuts and round shapes from Cristobal Balenciaga, placed in a modern framework. Gone are the technical fabrics, replaced by circular panels of black velvet and crepe which lean close to the religious vestments that enthralled Cristobal Balenciaga. Seemingly austere petal-hemmed jackets in grey gabardine open up to reveal underlying waistcoats and winged, caped backs. Worn with a fluid “Bounce” Skirt or simple “City” trousers, these hyper-engineered jackets retain the architectural heritage of BALENCIAGA, but in the service of contemporary aesthetics.

The emphasis on pure geometric shapes is echoed in new sculptural accessories. An “Origami” wristlet in calfskin and brass transforms from a 2-dimensional envelope into a 3-dimensional triangle. A “Geometric Rectangle” cross-body bag features a metal clasp that mimics the curve of the hip. Jewel-tone suede or ponyskin “Snow” shoes borrow from mountaineering and sport motifs. Tubular jewelry cast in palladium and enamel finish the geometric silhouettes of the collection.

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