Cristobal Balenciaga's methodology was to create clothing engineered to transform how women felt, and therefore how they looked. The three-quarter sleeve, the stand-away collar, the skirt running slightly ahead of one's walk. The rapport between body and clothes. A couture attitude. Balenciaga was built on the relationship between couturier, client and cloth.
Balenciaga AW2016 Collection is the debut by new artistic director Demna Gvasalia presented as a series of couture attitudes transforming a modern, utilitarian wardrobe. The notion of :Sophisticated" is toyed with, an abstract inspiration. The collection is built around five couture "attitudes", focusing on a manner of carrying oneself in clothing rather than silhouette. The mannerism is then translated into cut and construction, to discreetly but distinctly affect the deportment and psychology of the wearer.
A tension between fit and unfit, the body firmly held or free, suspended in fabric, These dichotomies are constantly at play, between the haute couture poles of tailleur and flou. The basque, with jutting emphasized hips created through heritage couture construction techniques, is the crux of tailoring, This is emphasized in coats, coat-dresses and jackets in tweeds and wool. Traditional skirt-suits, the foundation of mid-century couture day-wear, fuse into coats affecting tromple-l'oeil.
The grandeur of Balenciaga's signature cocooning opera coats is newly-embedded in practical, modern sportswear, parkas, bombers and biker jackets, cut to shrug off the shoulder or to stand pruodly away from the body in three-dimensions. Down jackets and bombers are cross-bred with evening stoles, draped or knotted at the neck in a false hauteur. A subversion of stereotypical sophistication.
The panels, trains apron skirts of Balenciaga's formal evening wear translate to double-layered coats and skirts with wrapped panels, allowing the wearer to define or free the silhouette, the waistbands of oversized knits are scissored roughly away, like a work in progress , to trail behind.
The classic sylphlike couture pose - a profile of concave stomach, arched back and poised hips a C-curve, a stereotypical couture attitude gives a forward slant to torso and skirts, manipulation perceptions of the body within. Narrow car-coats are cut with the new silhouette, an existing garment transmogrified.
"Evening wear" toys with archetypes of haute couture, challenging our notions of taste. Elaborately-embroidered cocktail dresses draw on the C-curve line, while tent-dresses pay homage to a Balenciaga signature, pushed to an extreme in trailing mismatched layers of print, pattern and color. The attitude is of excess, of the almost-beautiful.