It's a moment of reset for Balenciaga
. Ghesquière's gone, Wang hasn't yet shown his hand. But stores demand clothes, so the design studio stepped in to create the Fall men's collection. As such, it was more a commercial stopgap than a fully realized entity unto itself. The natural fabrics and the relatively simple silhouettes (save a new, wider-leg trouser that's the news of the season here) played into the idea of a palate cleanser. The collection worked, though, because of the wealth of past hits—both Nicolas' and Cristobal's—any Balenciaga designer has to draw on. The rounded, lacquered wool tweed coat adapted Monsieur Balenciaga's cocoon shapes for menswear. The many great jackets, from Saharienne to perfecto to military parka, were new versions of Ghesquière standards, though the tech aspect he harped on had been reduced to quiet details, like interior seams cut and sealed by an ultrasonic machine with the slightly sinister name of the Nucleus. (There's a very Balenciaga bit of twenty-first-century creepiness in the retelling, but the actual takeaway was merely, hey, nice seams.) The name of Rimbaud was invoked, and maybe you could see his raffish romanticism in pieces like a full black velvet suit or a velvet-tipped chesterfield. Or maybe not. The overriding sense here was of the calm before the coming storm. What Balenciaga looks like next is to be seen. What it has looked like in stores these past few years was on clear and desirable display.