The first thing that you noticed at Nicolas Ghesquière's terrific Balenciaga show was the casting. He opened with a trio of unknown girls with short, spiky hair that his team cast from the street, and he closed with the biggest super of them all, Gisele Bündchen. In between: Amber Valletta, Carolyn Murphy, and Stella Tennant—all of whom were very nearly bare-faced. "It was important not to disguise them. I didn't want clones," the designer said before the show.

Ghesquière made references to the house's past—a famous leaf-paneled dress of Cristobal's apparently influenced the cocooning shape of pied de coq coats; an antique clock in the Balenciaga atelier inspired a new range of watches—but this wasn't an "archive" show. Nor was it one of the designer's bold leaps into the future. The through lines here: a teddy boy-meets-punk masculinity (for the first time in his tenure at the house, Ghesquière showed creeper-ish flats); wet-looking, plasticized textures; and, once again, the places where the handmade and the technological meet. The last dress, for instance, was finished with couture techniques near the neckline, but a laser machine made the precision cut that separated the bodice from the skirt.

"It's a reaction to a certain kind of sexiness," Ghesquière said. "It's about individuality." That's not necessarily so different from his thinking last season, but if Fall was conceptual, this produced some fantastic, utterly wearable (not just once-and-it's-over) clothes. The list is long and ranges from houndstooth outerwear with a graphic punch (the pattern made from plastic-y faux leather) to sleeveless, backless button-down shirts spliced together from mismatched neon lace to the streamlined, comparatively simple tuxedos to quilted leather moto jackets to the closing pair of spare yet technically complex dresses. Who but Ghesquière could make real life look this interesting?