RUNWAY FASHION TREND: Balenciaga’s Broad Shoulders

RUNWAY FASHION TREND: Balenciaga’s Broad Shoulders
A standing ticket at a fashion show can be read as a gilt-edge, calligraphy-inked slap in the face. But a trio of benches that collapsed before the Balenciaga show made the usual strategic planning as to which guest would have what seat redundant, with front-row guests including high priestess of Parisian fashion Carine Roitfeld, the actor Catherine Deneuve and celebrity snapper Mario Testino forced to view the collection standing up. The catwalk sets at Balenciaga are precision planned and often give a clue as to the direction the show will take. This one, pre “Bench-gate” as the twittersphere quickly dubbed the event, featured a highly polished parquet effect floor and some sleek black shiny benches which belied their precariousness.



Before the show started the benches began to collapse (presumably not under the weight of the guests) and the usually unflappable Balenciaga staff announced that everyone would have to stand for health and safety reasons. As a result, the scene resembled less a catwalk crowd, more an exceptionally well-dressed church congregation. Once the show started normal fashion service resumed. Creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, who has been at the helm of the much-lauded house since 1997, is known for his twin passions of futurism and investigating the Balenciaga archive. This show betrayed both those fascinations.


At the heart of the collection there were boxy, thick Shantung-silk jackets in blocks of colour that had a sporty and sci-fi feel. Sporty may seem like an odd description for a spectacularly luxe silk jacket cut in a Parisian atelier but Ghesquière regularly pulls off this sartorial stunt. These were worn with ultra short and stiffened silk running shorts. Trousers were super slim: denim at the front and twill at the back. A scarf print which resembled a Picasso sketch appeared on broad-shouldered silk shirts.

As the show progressed skirts became longer and fuller and were worn with a hybrid prairie-hat-cum-wimple, an accessory which sounds as strange as it looks. But given Ghesquière’s track record of creating cult accessories it can’t yet be dismissed as catwalk frippery.



Backstage after the show the designer said he was “interested in the architecture of silk”. This couture-driven pursuit won’t be what drips down the fashion food chain in the coming weeks. But it is likely that when the rest of the industry figures out what to make of Balenciaga’s perennially hard-to-describe clothes they might come up with broad shoulders and sporty shorts as potential take-home themes.
From The Guardian

From Imogen Fox

Friday, September 30, 2011 · Categories: Trend Analysis, Fashion, Runway
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