Baby North West was silent backstage at the Balenciaga show, but her parents Kim and Kanye each had something to say to designer Alexander Wang.
“I loved the floor,” they said, almost in unison, referring to mirrored tiles making a pathway across a raised glass catwalk, where dry ice out billowed light clouds.
Fortunately, this exceptional set did not completely outshine the show
. Although Wang’s use of mesh was repetitive, his premise — to dynamise the Balenciaga image via sport – was in concert with his previous collections and personal vision. And the net effects lightened up the concept of decoration.
“Opulence and embellishment — but I wanted to find my way of showing it,” said Wang, who took his usual run around the square stage.
I would defy anyone who claimed to see exactly what was going on in this high-octane, fast-paced show. But here’s the gist: a sport shirt and skirt woven in mesh, the top covered with a transparent glaze; a slim stretch dress, with ruching shaping the bodice into an “X” at the neck; a semi-transparent top with high-waist shorts; and various tailored pieces, such as jackets and coats, worn over dresses with filmy textures.
It added up to a youthful dynamism, with the strong sports element softened by pastel colours including lilac, pale blue and pinky beige.
It is to Wang’s credit that he has the vision and energy to keep Balenciaga running at high speed. But what exactly is the goal?
There are products for people to buy, including striking mirrored eyeglasses. The clothes are modern and streamlined, and if the prices are anywhere near affordable, they should sell well.
But the kernel of Balenciaga, what it stands for, is not Cristóbal Balenciaga, with his heritage of nobility. It is Alexander Wang himself. The clothes are an upscale version of his personal creative image. And seen in that light, it was a good, strong show.