Balenciaga Fall/Winter 2017

At Balenciaga’s Fall/Winter 2017 show, exaggerated tailoring was the focal point. Shirts unbuttoned with chest exposed. Floor length overcoats. Puffer jackets with elongated sleeves. Chinos that resemble Dockers. Casual footwear. It was a thorough decomposition of polish. A visual display of tension between streetwear and office attire. The styling was a nod to the late 1980s/early 90s. Even the set design and the staging felt distinctly indicative of the last decade of the 20th century. What this homage to an era of underdeveloped menswear means is significantly opaque. Demna Vasalia represents creative direction too specific to his own brand. This is less Balenciaga, and more Vetements at Balenciaga. When designers with success at a label of their creation take the helm at a fashion house, it provides an opportunity for them to instill a new breed of creativity to an existing structure. When the newly appointed designer uses the storied label to further drive their aesthetic, what often happens is a disconnect between an existing consumer base and the often too forward thinking direction of the product. This appears to be the case for Vasalia at Balenciaga. What works so profoundly at Vetements is the subversive spirit that is tangible in each garment. That same transgressive energy is not transferrable to what was created and built by Cristobal Balenciaga. Elegance and fastidious refinement are at the crux of this fashion house. Unfortunately, this collection was anything but.