BALENCIAGA FW2014/15 collection focuses on knitting techniques, newly woven into the classic BALENCIAGA codes. While retaining the structured architecture of silhouettes, intensive handcraft and innovative spirit of the House, the collection also modulates these historic codes to weave new results for the 21st century. The collection playfully addresses the multifaceted scenarios of daily life, from its most charmingly mundane to the most ceremonial: Sunday morning in the garden, a successful shopping afternoon, 9-5 work (and cocktails afterwards), après-ski in the chalet, a weekend in the country, the glamorous party.
The vocabulary of Knitwear, a tradition rarely expressed in the BALENCIAGA archive, is the purposeful center of this collection. Metaphorically, the collection ties together the established heritage of the house with a new thread introduced by Artistic Director Alexander Wang. Knits are folded, bonded, shaped, embroidered, laminated and twisted throughout the collection. In this knitwear exploration, the voluminous shapes of the House are reworked to appear familiar-yet-uncanny, with softly sculpted forms balanced by a new asymmetry.
Structured leather dresses in olive or steel grey are hand-lashed together with knit skirts and turtlenecks to inflect a softer hand. A black kimono coat is knit and bonded to black leather, with volume defined at the waist by a metal belt stamped with the historic registration of the House: “10 Avenue George V, Paris.”
Seemingly classic raincoats worn over what appear to be graphic stripe knit dresses are achieved by intensive techniques. The striped dresses are composed entirely of laser-cut knit jersey links and pieced together by hand in a technique close to chain-mail construction. Raincoats are built from a cable-knit base and then hand- laminated to Latex to create a tactile and shiny surface. A red-and-white wrap coat with an asymmetrical, double leather lapel appears to be knit, but has actually been embroidered in a clever trompe l’oeil effect. The doubling effect expresses a look in motion: as if the wearer is caught mid-action taking off their coat, revealing a matching dress underneath.
Ideas of Asymmetry and Hybridity expressed first in the embroidered coat looks are extended in a group of twisted tailored looks in black wool crepe, with a jacket lapel fluidly extending into caped sleeves, or a pair of tailored trousers yielding gently into a skirted panel, with cleanly-finished Nucleus edges. Last looks are comprised of origami-folded sweaters embroidered with dramatic crystal “Sea Urchin” clusters of pearls and rhinestones. Here, knits meld with draped duchesse silk to elegant effect. These jeweled clusters, originally inspired by a pearl and rhinestone brooch from the Cristobal Balenciaga archive, are sprinkled through the collection in clustered cuffs, chokers and unique earrings ending with a single pearl punctuating the top of the ear.
An emphasis on Utility and Performance wear is a secondary theme in the collection, as an extension of the Pre Fall 2014 collection. In the first looks, Framis-taped seams and zippers are placed to graphic effect on double-faced wool fleece jackets and on “Reflective Chevron” canvas trousers. Hooded parkas feature a textured “Knit Chevron” tactile pattern, with each chevron cut from foam and bonded between layers of black Japanese twill.
Crocodile gloves with built-in wallets, over-the-knee boots in reflective canvas and structured shopping totes with industrial wire handles further underscore the utility theme.