Adieu, clunky officewear! Bonjour, accessible high chic!

NicolasGhesquière resides in the more thoughtful reaches of the fashionlandscape. That’s not to say he’s a designer of intellectual fashion (inthe old days of WWD, that meant clothes for insiders that real peoplewould hate) or that most designers work purely on instinct. Only thatGhesquière seems to ponder more than most. Or maybe he’s just more intodiscussing the nitty-gritty than most, talking past his thematicreferences to the intricate details of construction, willing to explainthe exact purpose for this seam or that dart vis-à-vis the shape of thegarment.

The fact that his knockout spring collection, thoughcomplicated in terms of cut and fabric development, looked moreobviously accessible — simple, to use his own (inaccurate) word — thanhis fall lineup, with its cumbersome sweater shapes, could be mereseasonal fashion trope. More likely, it was the result of adetermination to train the house codes — both his own and the founder’s —onto clothes that will beckon from the retail hanger,“Try me; I’msexy!” That Ghesquière did so exquisitely while playing to the theme ofantiquity, via Cocteau’s “Testament d’Orphée” with a soupçon of thesculptor Janine Janet (she worked on the film and moonlighted as theRhoda Morgenstern of her day, doing major pieces for Balenciaga’s andothers’ windows), while incorporating specific structural conceits fromthe archives, speaks to Ghesquière’s brilliance.

“An evocationof mythological drama,” Ghesquière said during a preview. He opened witha bright white bra top over slim black pants, sans vulgarity. He thenmoved into an exploration of static motion; with their voluptuousruffled cascades, his black-and-white evening beauties combined thesensuality of skin-baring movement with the strength of substantialstructure delivered in a sturdy silk blend bonded to toile. Togas lookedlike hanky-hemmed minis but were actually shorts. Tailoring camemasculine — light-toned, strong-shouldered pantsuits — and feminine: aterrific modernist take on chichi in what looked like tweeds but wereactually multilayered embroideries. Another remarkable fabric: colorful,leafy guipure embroidered with a vinelike motif; from even a shortdistance, one might mistake it for leather. It was all intensely worked,yet with the end result of a fabulous lightness that relinquished noneof the strength of the Balenciaga woman — accessible high chic of thehighest order.

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