6th July 2023

Balenciaga Haute Couture AW23

The legendary Spanish House explores cut and construction for the winter. By THE FALL

The intimate setting of the salons at Paris’ 10 avenue George V played host to the new vision from creative director Demna for the 52nd Balenciaga haute couture collection for AW23 at PFW.  A soaring Maria Callas a cappella and the up-close-and-personal dynamic made it all the better to marvel at the architectural constructs in the Georgian designer’s pursuit of perfection.

Danielle Slavik, a favoured muse of the couturier in the 60s, opened the show in a stunning deep-space black velvet column dress from the archives, decorated with flowers at each shoulder and featuring pearl necklace detailing to the front.  Further on, the style was taken to near sci-fi extremes with a floor-length, figure-hugging bustier dress adorned with a mind-boggling 10,000 hand-applied rhinestone crystals.

In between those touch points, oversized coats with overlong sleeves vied for attention with cotton trench outerwear and cashmere scarves constructed and fortified to seem windswept, even while still, like a moment captured in an image.  And, these weren’t the only theories on structure we were witnessing

The sharp tailoring of dress suits and fantastical shapes for evening gowns also seized their moments in the spotlight.  Imposing angular shoulders on jackets incorporated innovative curved V-necklines that were mirrored in the effortlessly chic coats and dresses of comparable sensibilities.  Then, to break things up a little, bottle-shaped, rigid lace gowns in passionate red and sculptural, simmering pink satin dresses with extravagant trains marked some of the few occasions the procession of black was punctuated.

At other times, it was the intermittently deployed trompe l’oeil effects that brought us the colour.  Padded coats intricately pieced together from individual linen canvas panels hand-painted to look like luxurious golden-brown fur, and trousers fashioned to mimic denim jeans or leather pants played intriguing little tricks with the eye.

By the time we reached the finale we were hit with another ‘wow’ of futurism.  A CAD-designed, 3D-printed armour dress in polished chrome embodied the perceived nexus between construction, creativity and advancement.  It’s technology, Demna tells us, that will help us get closer to the perfection we all strive for.  With the Balenciaga haute couture AW23 collection, we’re clearly almost there.


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