BALENCIAGA’S COUTURE SHOW WAS A TRIBUTE TO PURSUING PERFECTION
While true perfection is impossible, it is always in the mind of the couturier.
Balenciaga just presented its 52nd Couture Collection. It is Demna’s third for the house. The show, held in the salons at 10 avenue George V, was scored to a BFRND reworking of Maria Callas’ operas in a never-before-heard acapella format. No known Callas recordings occurred in studio or without orchestral backgrounds. BFRND collaborated with a sound engineer, using two AI programs to lift the soprano’s voice. The isolated singing becomes sonic couture.
The first look of the show interpreted an original Cristóbal Balenciaga design, seen on Danielle Slavik, the couturier’s preferred model from 1964-1968. The original was her favorite piece she ever wore. The dress, with velvet flowers and an integrated pearl necklace, connects the past and the present by reimagining the first iteration in a mirrored construct.
The concept then moved into architectural tailoring. Sharp shoulders, a curved-V neckline inspired by the hemlines of the couturier’s original tailored jackets and a shaped waist define this section. For menswear, suits appeared as if in Prince of Wales check or pinstriped wool. With both, the textile is actually Japanese denim woven on antique looms.
Trompe l’œil surfaced as a modern way of acknowledging traditional materials. Linen canvas panels were hand-painted and assembled into garments, such as a padded coat made to look like fur, or trousers proffered as jeans or leather pants. Houndstooth and python textures were replicated, along with buttons and lapels on blazers. Beneath these applications, the garments are streamlined in build. All dimension is added through oil paint brushstrokes, which can take up to 280 hours to apply.
Structure emerged from the two-dimensional. Wool outerwear, cotton trench coats and cashmere scarves were cut and fortified to seem windblown. Even in total stillness. This was executed through two full days of hand-sculpting, and it involved a knitted, bonded liner that reinforces the external fabric.
Eveningwear closed. One bustier dress was composed of 10,000 crystals, and required the individual application of 3D-printed resin stone settings for each–and 900 hours of production time. The use of Swiss guipure lace, enlarged and woven chainmail and sequin-sewn filigrees underpined the excellence in craftsmanship that is constantly sought by the metier.
A finale dress of CAD-designed, 3D-printed armor and galvanized resin was polished in chrome, with a coating of black flock along the interior–like a jewelry box. Rigid and reflective, it embodies a temporal crossroads, fusing classical techniques with cutting-edge advancements. It also demonstrates a new reality. As with the sound element, perfection will now only be neared if technology is included as an addition to the most important factor in dressmaking: the human component.
Immediately following the presentation, a selection of pieces from the show will be available in the Couture Store and, for the first time, via balenciaga.com—a turning point in the history of the House in terms of access. A newly designed web page offers items that debuted in the show and exclusives for the store, to be created from a range of colorways and fitted during an in-person appointment. A first in Couture and a modern approach to the resolutely traditional, this retail innovation furthers the Couture Store concept, expanding the world of couture beyond its standard circle. The selection includes jewelry, eyewear, shoes, garments, outerwear, and accessories.