June 29, 2007
A typically concise menswear collection from Balenciaga was also typically odd. Though there were distinctly classic elements (a striped shirt that would do any bourse boy proud), the overriding impression was of a design ethos that values wayward escapism. North Africa, for example, has been a longtime mecca for Euro-bohos, and it made its presence felt here in colors of sand and saffron, a leather jacket detailed like a Moroccan pouf, a worn cotton hippie shirt, or shorts that had a jodhpurlike flare. Suede carryalls drew on the color palette of Claudio Bravo, a Chilean artist whose love affair with Morocco was one of the collection's inspirations. An Indiana Jones hat and gladiator sandals (on loan from the women's division) compounded the curiousness. The label's T-shirt range, which is usually a thing of obtuse wonder, this time drew on the patterns of the balls used in team sportsrugby, soccer, and basketballor jungle and underwater motifs from the women's spring 2003 collection. Evening jackets referenced couture materials, but they were paired with silk boxer shorts, the idea being formality up top, very little down below. Quite why this should present itself as a viable proposal (even accepting that we're being warned to expect ever-hotter summers) was a mystery. Perhaps as a reminder that there are more important things in life than pants?