February 26, 2007 Paris
Well, what does that mean? Practically speaking, clothes to wearas simple as a tight little peak-shoulder jacket, a pair of narrow jodhpur-ish pants, a college-girl scarf wound up high, and killer athletic-techno sandals (some colored as brightly as Legos). Or, as the alternative choice, a mixed-print patchwork dress. As a look, it all hung together with a clarity that doesn't take a master's degree to understand. Still, there was enough to study in there to make a complete thesis on Ghesquière's ability to relate what he's doing to his past body of work and then to add to it, bit by bit, without ever saying the same thing twice.
Using multiethnic fabric referencesEastern European folk embroideries, ikat, kimono, and African, Peruvian, Mongolian, and Balinese patternsis a tricky business if you want to articulate something cool that hasn't been done by everyone else. But Ghesquière has his own conceptual compassit was set when he used a Palestinian scarf in one of his early collections, and it turned up this time in a different print, elaborated with gold fringe, as a takeoff point for the fluttery multipieced dresses, as well as the sculpted peplum jackets at the end of the show. As a counterbalance, there were all the traditional Western roots in the jackets: English men's tailoring in green velvet smoking-jacket tail coats, Tyrolean boiled wool dyed magenta, boating-blazer stripes, and, lastly, bouclé tweeds of the sort associated with Chanel (though Ghesquière notes that Balenciaga was neck and neck with Coco on that).
Suffice to say, it is a major achievement to make all of that coherent while also producing a collection that isn't overly prescriptive, locked into a head-to-toe look. When all's said, the real cleverness of this show wasn't even in its impressive levels of intellect or craft: It's in the fact that so many women will be able to reach in, grab a jacket or a towering pair of Balenciaga heels, and make them work with whatever else they own.