January 20, 2011 Paris
Nevertheless, the men's and women's collections at Balenciaga are inextricably linked, right down to shared prints: Usually, what appears in one will surface, in some tweaked form, in the other. Here, a bird-and-flower pattern that turned up as tights and a blouse for women's pre-fall came back as a bold shirt print. A single-breasted peacoat in red wool had its analogue in a ladies' caban.
But more than specific pieces, the two collections share the house's detail-driven, quasi-futuristic spirit. That was evident here in the oily-looking printed jacket, the leather pants, and vinyl jeans. This season, lug-soled, creeper-style lace-ups have a metal grate hinged at the front—the steel-toed boot gone robot sartorial. A fully reversible shearling-and-camel jacket felt just as forward-leaning. Ultra-functionality and mutability was, in fact, the driving theme of this new collection: pockets unbuttoned (via open-faced snaps, no less) to reveal other pockets lurking beneath; a duffel coat's leather-accented hood unzipped into a mini cape.
Between said duffel, a teddy jacket that came in several different colors, the shearling bomber, and a boiled-wool collared navy raincoat lined in brilliant gold, Balenciaga had some of the best outerwear in an outerwear-crammed week. No runway required.