Nicolas Ghesquière — modernist clothier to the working woman? Such was the ruse behind the designer’s interesting fall collection for Balenciaga. Ghesquière took his audience to the recently renovated Tour Cristal, a late-Nineties office tower, a proper backdrop for an idea he’s been percolating for some several years. “The last tall building [built] in Paris,” he said in a preview. “I had this idea about a Balenciaga firm done in a very cinematic way, with different characters with different functions, the executives, the technicals, legal, the researchers, all about how women dress for work.”

Should his vision win out, Wall Street human resources types will be pushing “send” on the dress code item in the handbook. Basic banker’s stripes have their place, but not at Ghesquière’s “Balenciaga Inc.” Up and down his out-there corporate ladder, which, in addition to the aforementioned professionals, included renegade spies and rock ’n’ roll chicks with an unstated penchant for Red Bull (they stay out all night and still work just fine all day). The employees favored large volumes; accentuated, sometimes pointy bosoms; skirts that play peekaboo; loud logo fleeces; power-diva parachute silk jumpsuits, and cat’s-ear bustier dresses.


Ghesquière’s recent forays into increased volumes suggest a determination to take his runway in a more commercial direction than that which centered on his famous, superskinny silhouette. For fall though, not everything was big; it felt demonstrative, if not in the structure or at the shoulder, then in the fabric mixes. Fabulous coats, fold-front A-line skirts and pants versions of the jumpsuits looked great and salable. However, some of the fuller shapes — the short, round sweaters come to mind — didn’t exactly telegraph svelte. But then, in a fashion world of too much safety, Ghesquière remains an essential and directional risk-taker. In one area, he took reverse risk. The designer most often credited with catapulting shoes into the danger zone, both literally and psychologically, here showed desexed styles with heels almost retro in their manageability quotient. The reason, he said, was to move on from “the cloning of the girls,” and that he now prefers “something less robotic than when they are so suspended in the air. That’s not working anymore. The importance of a presentation now is individuals.”

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