Balenciaga: the Ghesquière years

What with all the designers playing musical chairs, the various dramas during Fashion Month and the newfound love for open letters, 2012 has been a pretty crazy year for the fashion world. Now that Sandy has done its damage and people are starting to re-establish their lives, the powers that be felt it was only right to drop another bombshell on the unassuming public. It was revealed yesterday that Nicholas Ghesquière's dazzling SS13 Balenciaga show would be his last for the house.

Many people have been pretty blindsided by the news. Whether you love or loathe Ghesquière, you can't deny that his contribution to fashion has been massive since he took the reins as Balenciaga's creative director in 1993. He gave Balenciaga a complete overhaul, carved out a distinct brand aesthetic, produced collections that were both critically and commercially successful and expanded into previously untouched areas, such as parfumerie.

We all can hope and pray that next year Ghesquière will go solo and everyone else will stay where they are and stop causing fashion people to have minor emotional breakdowns every few weeks. Change is not always a good thing. Having said that, I couldn't think of anything better than seeing the back of Karl... but those thoughts are for another blog post.

Here are my personal highlights of Ghesquière's time at Balenciaga...
Autumn/Winter 2006
Autumn/Winter 2010

Spring/Summer 2004
Spring/Summer 2007
Spring/Summer 2013

I still love you, Raf

I’ve been neglecting this thing because I have been too busy being a 9-5 working/10-5 party girl but I have an evening of nothing ahead of me so I thought I would write about things that my friends don’t much care for me talking about over triple Cs. They’re all wildly intelligent, so things like fashion and music are trivial matters when compared to books, UMS points and snooziversity. I guess the old ‘opposites attract’ adage is true after all; there’s no way I would be friends with those weirdos otherwise. 

Heaps of people booted about Raf Simons’ Dior debut last weekand I don’t mean in a positive way. As usual, the majority of reviews from those who were actually on the front row were positive (so much so that I was only able to read a handful of them before they all began to merge into one another), and it was only really on TFS that the claws came out. Oh yeah, they really dug into Simons. It seemed that the popular opinion on the forum was that Simons’ first contribution was an insult to the very notion of couture. Lots of people are clearly still crying over the fact that Galliano has left Dior. This is great news for people like me who, although acknowledging the immensity of Galliano’s talent, are really not into the whole meringue-y, taffeta-explosion princess look. And that isn’t just what couture’s all about, you get me?
So, of course, what you make of it is all down to personal taste. Personally, I thought that it was a beautiful collection; so clean, modern and sophisticated. This is what contemporary couture should look like. It was all rather reminiscent of classic Dior HC, due to its lack of Galliano gaudiness and Raf’s clever invocation of the house’s archives. 
The idea of Simons doing couture was always going to be difficult to digest — he is to minimalism what Galliano was to ostentatiousness — especially having witnessed (and become accustomed to) all of the drama that Galliano/Gaytten brought to the table. However, change happens. Some take that harder than others. Raf is one of several designers who are changing the game and presenting us with something fresh and relevant. 
I think it’s kinda important, too, to remember that this was Simons’ first haute couture collection ever, so you’ve got to applaud him for producing something so divine despite his lack of experience in the field. Also, Raf’s AW12 offering is so much better than what Gaytten came up with for SS12 couture. Who actually buys dresses like this , anyway, and actually wears them?

Notes on French style

I’m so tired and ill but I was talking about French style with some friends today and I keep thinking about it. Really, though, ‘French style’? What French style? Not all Frenchies dress in the same way. I do know what people mean when they talk about ‘French style’, though; they’re thinking of insouciance, slim fit troos, Isabel Marant, Breton stripes and trophy jackets (worn with skinny jeans, kitten heels and a plain slouchy tee, naturellement). But that’s just a scratch-on-the-surface take on French style. Actually, no, that’s just Emmanuelle Alt’s style.

I’m friends with one of those intimidating gals who always exude class and elegance — even when wearing jeans, of all things — and I often wonder whether this is because she’s half French and has, perhaps, inherited the innate sense of style that French girls supposedly have and that the English are perennially trying to emulate. But what do they have that we don’t? It’s that certain je ne sais quoi, of course. If you don’t get me, turn to Godard’s Nouvelle Vague films. My best girl Hannah made me watch some of them when I was hungover and losing my mind and, well, they made me really happy (and pretentious). They taught me lots of things — namely, how to be cool and how it’s OK to be depressed as long as you’re underweight and well dressed and show no exterior signs of your interior struggle — and they showed me exactly why we all love French girls. In A bout de souffle, Jean Seberg isn’t wearing anything fancy but she just seems so chic. Why? Because she has such a great attitude. She’s confident. She’s cool. Quickly, it all becomes clear that, peut-être, the key element of French style is less about the clothes, more about the woman beneath them.

If anything, when you think of all of the French women who stick to their relatively safe BCBG wardrobes, we Brits are much better dressers. And yeah, sure, Alexa Chung obviously references Jane Birkin and the like quite a lot when she’s getting dressed, but it’s the way she puts the clothes together that counts. Oh, and as much as I want to be Emmanuelle Alt (or the archetypal Isabel Marant woman) when I’m 40, the words ‘white denim’ currently only pass my lips when I’m referring to that cool band that I like quite a lot. Yep. 

In my dreams I wear Christopher Kane

OMG SS12. I don’t want to sound like a dumb girl by being overly excited about a show but, oh my, it blew me away. I read somewhere that people became all emotional and were crying (happy) tears at the end of the show. That’s how good it was.
Mr Kane is, quite simply, a genius. His shows never fail to render me speechless because the looks presented in them are pretty much perfect. Yet not completely perfect: although Kane does seem to have this knack for taking typically ugly things and making them desirable, sometimes he just can’t make the bad-looking good-looking. So where did the loveable Scot trip up this time? Well, it was the shoes. Ah, the shoes… the rubber-soled pool shoes… I want to warm to them, but I just can’t. Perhaps, as was the case with brothel creepers, I’ll ‘get’ them eventually. But I’m failing to see anything appealing about these new season shoes apart from the fact that they’re comfortable. Unfortunately there is only a small space in my life for comfortable shoes and it has been filled by ballet pumps and velvet slippers — I won’t be lusting after a Chris Kane pool shoe any time soon.

Apart from that slight sartorial slip-up, the collection was as dazzling as you would expect. There was a 60s feel in the air that could be witnessed in the cuts, the hemlines, the floral prints and the sort of futurism that Courrèges channelled. The show’s opener was a simplistic yet stunning metallic outfit which proved that, sometimes, less really is more.

A series of delicate-and-ever-so-pretty organza (70% aluminium organza if we’re being meticulous) dresses with floral appliqués stood out, as did some embellished numbers which would be perfect for those of us who party in style at the most exclusive clubs. For various reasons I am more of a Friday-night-at-the-local kind of gal, searching for something more casual, so the floral print denim pieces looked f9 to me. They offered us a glimpse of the exciting work that Kaney has been doing with J Brand recently. And if you’re into the preppy look (lol), perhaps the cricket jumper would take your fancy. There really is something for everyone in this collection, to be honest AND I forbid anyone to disregard its excellence just because of some ugly shoes (but Stella showed some as well, so maybe they’ll catch on and I’ll be eating my words come July).
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