The Statements Pieces. Balenciaga Resort 2020

Balenciaga released its resort 2020 look-book just in time when the clothes start to hit the stores. Demna Gvasalia‘s pre-collections for the maison aren’t as spectacular as the main shows (the spring-summer 2020 collection we’ve seen last month was one of his best to date!), but they sum up the label’s statement pieces: Balenciaga wardrobe “basics” (like tailoring with Cristobal Balenciaga’s couture volumes), the best-selling apparel and key bags. What else? Outsize parkas with their cheekbone-grazing collars, easy-wearing printed tea dresses in souvenir prints, XXL pajama sets… all this in the least matching colours you can imagine. But somehow, everything works together more than well. The look-book-opening coat is stamped with the Balenciaga logo in the familiar block print, but even without it one can identify the sloping shoulders, buttoned collar, and boxy, exaggerated fit as signature Gvasalia. And what’s my personal favourite from the line-up? The leather blouson-jacket in bold green, as pictured above.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Easy Gestures. A.P.C. SS20

“The older I grow, the less subtle I want to be,” Jean Touitou said at his spring-summer 2020 A.P.C. show. He was speaking over a microphone in a courtyard on the Rue Cassette near his headquarters, during the laid-back garden show/presentation. He also added that he was thinking about communist events in the 1970s and nighttime gatherings in city squares. Theory aside, the collection was all about summer colors and easy silhouettes. A tangerine swing coat, a pastel paisley minidress and grass green dinette dresses are the highlights. He clashed this all together with quirky styling tricks, like thick knit socks, backpacks worn on the chest and A.P.C. quilts held up like banners (hand-made by Jessica Ogden). Minimalism and purity of form are main codes at A.P.C., but as Touitou ages, his gestures are becoming easier and more free. On the backs of some pieces he had written slogans in an all-caps font: RADICALLY MINIMAL, POSITIVELY NORMAL. A.P.C. continues to be one of the best labels for daywear.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Fashion Uniforms. Balenciaga SS20

Balenciaga‘s spring-summer 2020 collection was really something. It’s quite clear that since Demna Gvasalia departed from Vetements, his focus is solely directed on the Parisian maison. For me, his latest line-up was as incredible as his debut collection – it proved again that his take on ready-to-wear is truly visionary. The collection was raw, properly odd, ironic and real (all the models come from different walks of life: there were nurses, actresses, super-models, lawyers, gallerists, engineers, etc.). But so, so desirable! Lets start from the beginning. He set the collection in a political arena – a faux “Balenciaga parliament or assembly,” which he’d convened to investigate the subject of “power dressing and fashion uniforms.” First looks: senior delegates in corporate tailoring. On their breast pockets were embroidered badges, two discs bisected with a Balenciaga logo (very Mastercard). Then came what Gvasalia called ‘the campaign dresses’. “We looked at pictures of women politicians, of what they wear campaigning. We took this type of tailored daywear dress and tried to make it cool – not an easy challenge, to be honest,” he said. His solution was to “make them more boxy and cocoon-y, which is quite Balenciaga. So many body types can wear it. Democratic and easy-to-wear volumes.” Later, he sent down a line-up of over-sized, turtleneck frocks in logos, perfume bottles and sneakers prints, and long-sleeved t-shirts with cliche slogans you see in cheesy gift shops (like ’18+’ or ‘Top Model\). In his latest interview with Jo Ellison for How To Spend It, he told the critic that not doing simple, commercial stuff is simply not honest at a brand like Balenciaga. And he’s right. Next: turtle duvet jackets (their construction is amazing – it’s modern day Cristóbal Balenciaga sort of thinking); hybrid, velvet garments that in front look like dresses, but in the back appear to have pants; coats, in faux fur or bold colours, with exaggerated shoulders; XXL, black, widow dresses (worn by Nadja Auermann and Renata Litvinova). If it couldn’t get any more eclectic, here’s the best part. The eveningwear, which instantly became the most memorable / meme moment of Paris Fashion Week. Specifically, crinoline dresses (two in lurex and with a huge, doll-like bow in the back, and three identical velvet masterpieces in different colours). “Ballroom dresses go back to the beginning of Balenciaga, when Cristóbal started in Spain. It was mostly this type of silhouette he did, from Spanish painting,” Gvasalia observed. “But we wanted to make sure they were wearable. If you take out the crinoline, you have a sort of goth dress.” True, there’s something that makes you feel uncomfortable while looking at the collection: maybe it’s the extreme blue of the venue? The prosthetics used as part of models’ make-up? The chilling soundtrack created by Demna’s boyfriend, Loik Gomez? Still, I can’t help but love it. Good fashion makes you want something for a moment. Great fashion makes you feel something and think about it for a couple of days.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Art of Sensual Tailoring. Haider Ackermann SS20

Haider Ackermann‘s spring-summer 2020 was about combining sensuality with tailoring – a sort of art that the designer mastered to perfection. The waist was a big focus of his new season line-up. Men and women both got midriff-spanning leather belts, and other times Ackermann knotted a jacket at the hips with a casual flourish. It looked especially compelling in the case of a jacket lined in vintage kimono silk. But if anything, this was a less androgynous collection than usual, due to the work the designer did with plissé bands of color, wrapping and twisting them around female torsos in a style reminiscent of Madame Grès. The tops, that are actual ribbons of fabric, are daring, just as the jumpsuits with the bumster-low cut-out detail in back. Bella Hadid and Adut Akech’s plissé bandeau dresses are highlights. The women’s and men’s show featured as well an ensemble first worn by Timothée Chalamet at the Venice Film Festival: a dove gray lapel-less suit in technical nylon with a flash of aqua blue at the hem. The belted tuxedo in the same pale shade with a liquid silk top underneath Chalamet wore not a while ago also appeared on the runway, styled in a slightly different way. Ackermann never disapoints.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.