The Balenciaga Pre-Fall 2014 collection married the Cristobal Balenciaga codes with 21st-century performancewear, a language Creative Director Alexander Wang knows intimately from his years at his own label.
At its most obvious, the mash-up produced a gabardine cocoon coat accented with waterproof aquazips at the cuffs borrowed from scuba diving and polyurethane patches at the shoulders lifted from uniforms. It had a sporty urgency that felt modern. Elsewhere, Wang captured the high-low attitude he was going for by cutting a “jean” jacket and mini from needle-punched wool and mohair or by pairing a real astrakhan pullover with a skirt in an astrakhan print. A black-and-white intarsia sweater that was pixelated like a computer screen looked arresting accompanied by deep green snowboarding trousers with Cristobal volumes.
The more classic part of the collection didn’t gel quite as well. Since arriving at the French house, Wang has made a point of emphasizing the 360-degree nature of his designs. This season, he used simple squares, rectangles, circles, and triangles to create more complex draped shapes. With their circular construction, the winged jackets looked a bit overthought. But his experiments did yield a beauty of an evening dress. The liquid black Japanese silk satin column gown that closed the show was very nearly backless. As sexy as it was, it’s hard to believe it was built on a rectangle.