Emirates Woman - - Front Row/Runway -


THE A/W16 SHOW REIMAGINED THE WORK OF CRISTÓBAL BA­LEN­CI­AGA – A TRANS­LA­TION, NOT A RE­IT­ER­A­TION. THIS NEW CHAP­TER WRIT­TEN BY DEMNA GVASALIA IS BA­LEN­CI­AGA, BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT here are a few things you need to know about Demna Gvasalia. One. He is the co-founder at the helm of Vete­ments – the rel­a­tively anonymous cult col­lec­tive re­spon­si­ble for a seis­mic shift in the Paris fash­ion scene and the in­dus­try as a whole. Two. He is the newly-ap­pointed artis­tic di­rec­tor at Ba­len­ci­aga. Three. He is not one to fol­low the rules. As posts go, it’s as pres­ti­gious as it gets, but the 35-year-old shaven­headed de­signer born in Tbil­isi, Ge­or­gia has man­aged to re­tain his an­ar­chic en­ergy at the sto­ried house and is hav­ing none of the cau­tious, slick aes­thetic that de­scended down through the ten­ure of his pre­de­ces­sor Alexan­der Wang. A risk-taker and rev­o­lu­tion­ary, the Martin Margiela and Louis Vuit­ton acolyte has not so much wiped the slate clean at Ba­len­ci­aga as spliced it, su­per­sized it, shrunk it, repur­posed it, cov­ered it in slightly gar­ish prints and tied it up in a prac­ti­cal bow.

With a rep­u­ta­tion for boost­ing the or­di­nary un­til it be­comes ex­tra­or­di­nary, Gvasalia is grounded in the real world. He has a less-than-ro­man­tic ap­proach to de­sign and thinks along more prac­ti­cal lines of “wardrobes” as op­posed to nar­ra­tives. Col­lec­tions are con­ceived of gar­ments as in­di­vid­ual en­ti­ties; a great dress, a great skirt, a great pair of pants… But we’re not talk­ing about bor­ing ba­sics here, we’re talk­ing about generic pieces en­hanced to boil­ing-point de­sir­abil­ity – with func­tion­al­ity and wear­a­bil­ity at their core. But how to marry prag­ma­tism and an un­der­ground sen­si­bil­ity with a cen­tury-old legacy of rig­or­ous tech­nique, ar­chi­tec­tural shapes and su­perb fin­ishes? By look­ing at the way the founder worked with the body. By ex­per­i­ment­ing with at­ti­tude and plac­ing el­e­gance in a mod­ern con­text. And by push­ing things for­ward with­out forced cross-ref­er­enc­ing.

It be­gan with el­e­gantly hunched tai­lor­ing – the clas­sic sylph-like cou­ture pose, a pro­file of con­cave stom­ach, arched back and poised hips – in black, grey and brown flan­nel, mor­phed into over­sized puffer coats and struc­tured ski jack­ets that nod­ded to archival opera coats – yes, re­ally! Think co­coon­ing vol­umes and open, pushed-back neck­lines – be­fore mov­ing into cut-and-paste flo­ral dresses worn over candy-stripe tights, an evening ex­cur­sion of ex­quis­ite em­broi­deries and ended with sober sheaths and sen­si­ble trenches.

Lest we for­get the ac­ces­sories: bags were based on tool­boxes and mar­ket bags, there were in­ward-an­gled glit­ter­ing heels, stomp­ing plat­form boots, chained glasses, quilted scarves and overblown safety-pin ear­rings. Sounds odd, looks amaz­ing. This is the man chang­ing Ba­len­ci­aga for­ever. We can’t wait for the next chap­ter.

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