A surprise discovery of costumes that Cristobal Balenciaga made for a ballet performance of Ravel's Boléro in the 1930's inspired Nicolas Ghesquière's new pre-collection. Not just the fluidity but also the color palette: baby blue, baby pink, and a barely-there shade of yellow he called bergamot. If you're thinking that sounds almost too straightforward for a Balenciaga collection in 2012, you're right. Ghesquière doesn't "do" just pretty, and so there was more to these clothes than the backstory might suggest.
The flou of a long ivory dress, for example, was juxtaposed by a rigid molded leather harness that brought to mind Game of Thrones' dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen more than it did Ida Rubinstein, the Russian ballerina who commissioned Ravel's piece. In fact, the look is a riff on Ghesquière's own oeuvre; the Art Nouveau-ish cutouts on the harness refer back to a Jules Verne collection from his early days at the house.
Elsewhere, the hard/soft motif played out on a great-looking sleeveless sheath that married a scubalike material with draped pinstriped wool, and also on flowy pastel dresses and skirts bonded with a stiffer neoprene that created sculptural, three-dimensional ruffles. The new pant silhouette is high-waisted, with a wide belt bisecting the torso, while jackets, both single- and double-breasted, have a boxy, mannish mien. Ghesquière undercut that too, though, with dainty bras peeking out beneath.
There's no Balenciaga lingerie collection on the horizon, but if there were, we imagine it'd do better than well at the new Paris flagship set to open in a former parking garage on Rue Saint-Honoré later this month.