BALENCIAGA @ FW2014 Menswear Collection

BALENCIAGA FW2014 Menswear Collection is the second men’s collection created under the artistic direction of designer Alexander Wang. This new collection is a combination of three conceptual elements: seriousness, understatement and comfort. It is the carefully calculated outcome of an equation with three components or inspirations: the Japanese influence on men’s dress, the structural design elements characteristic of Cristobal Balenciaga’s creations and the rigorous attention to detail that is appropriate to luxury and quality tailoring.

The Collection illustrates the intrinsic yet apparent influence of Japanese culture on Cristobal Balenciaga’s style. The design and the understated and acknowledged style of BALENCIAGA clothes share much with the refined lines, proportions and freedom of body movement in traditional Japanese dress. Highlighting this link, the spirit of this collection is redolent of men’s fashion in the 80s and 90s, which was, at that time, influenced by Japanese design.

The collection also reveals the contrasts and balance between the proportions, fabrics, structure and smooth elegance of the garments, and the matt and shiny finishes. Coats and jackets of a fuller cut are combined with narrow trousers. Other looks reveal the return of comfortable wide-leg trousers with creases, worn with a close-fitting jacket to provide contrast. The double-breasted jacket is back again. It features 4 cleverly positioned buttons, placed low down on the jacket and close together, evoking the generous crossover style of the kimono.

These balanced contrasts emphasize the graphic character of the collection, an element that is repeated in the cut and structure of the coats which call to mind the haute couture designer collections in BALENCIAGA’s archives. The matt finish of dry wool contrasts with the shiny finish of Cracknyl, a synthetic material created by Cristobal, a sort of technical crackle-effect fabric. Another form of contrast is achieved by using satin, a classic dressmaking fabric, for outerwear such as “wind-cheaters”. Shiny silk is used for shirts or sophisticated quilted jackets and coats, giving a distinct “evening wear” effect. The twin-fabric reverse collar of dinner jackets also achieve this graphic effect by means of contrasting matt and shiny finishes and the textural contrasts of smooth and raised finishes.

The color range is redolent of ecclesiastical dress. It is naturally restrained and subdued, composed of various grays, blacks and whites. The looks are rarely monochrome however, with fabric differences providing tonal variations and differential shading. The Domino print echoes the graphic effects of the braided multi-colored plastic ribbons used in beach chairs of the 50s. The metallic details, such as the zip round jacket collars, duffle-coat fastenings and belts, are like men’s jewelry, emphasising the understated magnificence of this collection. The various looks are accentuated by shoes or boots that echo the same mood as the garments. In the same range of colors, the leather features either a shiny or powdery, matt finish and the zips or closures have a chrome finish like the metallic details on some of the clothes.