January 11, 2009
At Balenciaga, pre-fall is Nicolas Ghesquière's laboratory—a chance to elaborate on ideas proposed in his runway collections and an opportunity to test the waters with new ones. Walking editors through his 28-look lineup—a mix of Edition archival updates, items from the lower-priced Capsule range, and pieces that he said were a good indication of the direction he was taking for Fall—Ghesquière pointed out the "French element" in nude silk blouses. (These he showed with utility-chic windbreakers in a papery Japanese fabric and slouchy, anti-fit combat pants.) Other stops on this economy-be-damned, where's-the-wait-list tour included miniskirt suits with jackets in a "very Cristobal shape" and long 1970's hostess gowns that, like most of the dresses, were looser than anything Ghesquière's done recently. Evening options ranged from a portrait gown with a grand flaring skirt that called to mind Richard Avedon's 1950's Vogue sittings to a super-modern red-carpet number in navy and black that twisted around the body. Holding it all together were chain necklaces and bracelets, fur cuffs and mittens that inched past the elbows, and flat boots or towering platforms. Every look was paired with a bag; a ladylike top-handle style in soft, matte caramel leather received the most nods of approval.