The last time we saw flowers at Balenciaga was ages ago, but even if you recall Spring 2008's orderly bouquets, they didn't look anything like the mix of exotic, colorful blooms and reptiles we saw on the first looks to hit the runway today. The shape, a below-the-knee skirt with an easy drape in the front (it was more structured in back), was new for Nicolas Ghesquière, too—longer, looser, and less restrained than usual. The jackets he showed them with were dramatic with a capital D, knit as they were from giant ribbons of faux leather, a favorite material of late. In Ghesquière's words, "The season is a game of proportion, zooming in on textures, the way seeing things with a loop [a magnifying glass] can give you different, shifting points of view. It's a bit surrealist."
Part of Ghesquière's genius is the way he can transform the outré, even the outlandish, into an object to covet (those Lego shoes come to mind). That said, this wasn't a Balenciaga collection in which couture-level innovation and experimentation trumped wearability, those macro knit jackets notwithstanding. The shoe, a pointy-toed multi-strap Mary Jane with a stiletto heel, was as normal as they come here, although close observers will have noticed that the hand-painting and rococo details extended to the soles.
Among the propositions that could've strolled right off the Crillon's white-tiled runway (a reproduction of the one found in Balenciaga's Left Bank atelier): the spongy sweaters with military detailing worn with black versions of those floral skirts; the fluid, asymmetrical color-blocked crepe de chine tunics paired with skinny trousers with zips at the back of the ankles; and the dresses stitched with lengths of copper mesh that sculpted the neckline and created a three-dimensional drape at the hip. Miranda Kerr, back on the runway less than two months after giving birth, looked fantastic modeling hers—something that presumably didn't go unnoticed by her husband, Orlando Bloom, sitting front-row. Ghesquière closed with a pair of coats inspired by an archival Cristobal piece from 1965. Each one was made from a simple, rectangular piece of fabric. Elegant and effortless, this was realism trumping surrealism. That's what will make this collection a resounding success.