Balenciaga: "It's the girl on the street with her jacket, her pants, her scarf," Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquière noted just after his show on Tuesday morning. This from a man of considerable understatement, conversationally speaking, because the designer had just thrilled his audience with a brash, flashy spectacular, an ode to streetwear for the girl with a major rock 'n' roll attitude and five figures to drop on that perfect ensemble for sidewalk sauntering.

In a sense, the show played like a terrific resolution of last season's heavy-handed futurism. Here were the intricate constructions and contrasts of hard and soft that have become Ghesquière signatures. Only now the robot army has given way to real women, albeit ones done up with face paint in an indistinct reference to an earthy warrior spirit.

Such signage proved an essential element as Ghesquière worked with other marks of status, most notably the pocket emblem (in Chinese markings) and signet buttons on a schoolboy's blazer. That preppy standard turned up again and again in surprising colors — berry, purple, royal blue — infusing the collection with a charm that tempered its audacity just a bit. And since a soupçon of variety is the spice of life, Ghesquière offered other jackets as well, including a rock-on green velvet tail coat and a pair of exuberant confetti tweeds, both as bold, but for a different reason — because they have their ancestral home on Rue Cambon. The jackets came snug and shrunken and went over — you heard it here — jodhpurs that didn't look stupid or like tailored takes on side-striped workout pants. While all of this catered to a faux-tough gamine type, Ghesquière also gave considerable attention to those whose preferred look is girly-with-edge, offering dresses wonderfully exotic in their mélanges of prints, veilings, coins, fringes and beads, some with the shimmy potential for the postmodern flapper.

Mix in richly textured coats with corset belts and a range of knits from sleek to cozy, and it added up to the most complete and wearable collection Ghesquière has ever done. Talk about street smarts.

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