The fact that [Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquiere’s] knockout spring collection, though complicated in terms of cut and fabric development, looked more obviously accessible—”simple,” to use his own (inaccurate) word—than his fall lineup, with its cumbersome sweater shapes, could be mere seasonal fashion trope. More likely, it was the result of a determination to train the house codes—both his own and the founder’s—onto clothes that will beckon from the retail hanger, “Try me; I’m sexy!” That Ghesquiere did so exquisitely while playing to the theme of antiquity, via Cocteau’s Testament d’Orphée with a soupçon of the sculptor Janine Janet (she worked on the film and moonlighted as the Rhoda Morgenstern of her day, doing major pieces for Balenciaga’s and others’ windows), while incorporating specific structural conceits from the archives, speaks to Ghesquiere’s brilliance.
“An evocation of mythological drama,” Ghesquiere said during a preview. He opened with a bright white bra top over slim black pants, sans vulgarity. He then moved into an exploration of static motion; with their voluptuous ruffled cascades, his black-and-white evening beauties combined the sensuality of skin-baring movement with the strength of substantial structure delivered in a sturdy silk blend bonded to toile. Togas looked like hanky-hemmed minis but were actually shorts. Tailoring came masculine—light-toned, strong-shouldered pantsuits—and feminine: a terrific modernist take on chichi in what looked like tweeds but were actually multilayered embroideries.