If you read my first post, you'll know one of my favorite fashion houses is Balmain. I think it's only right I start off simple and go for a design house of my preference. Why is Balmain one of my favorites? Simple. I'm pulled in by it's tendency to elegantly portray an edgy, rocker chic look by the use of an array of different textures and elaborated detail in classic and simple silhouettes. Just how I love'em!
Now, I know we just got past Spring/Summer 2012 shows barely a week ago, but it is October and clearly we must embrace the exquisite cold weather accoutrements, regardless we live in a heat bombed island in the middle of the Caribbean. That's why I'm starting off with a f/w 11' collection instead of the newly minted s/s 12' ones. And so, here's the main reason why I love Balmain: their creation of looks and staple pieces that would go well for anyone living anywhere (in my case, an island) because they give the perfect balance of rich textiles for when the weather starts to cool down, but also they're open to change meaning you could wear a short skirt when it's still hot. In other words: it's versatile for the every day woman (i.e. the house's iconic minidress. By the way, Zara has a very similar dress allusive to this collection in stores now. *wink wink*). I myself personally prefer autumn wear over the contrary. Maybe it's my inner desire to change my scenery and surround myself with the proper weather to wrap myself in rich scarves, chunky boots, wellies and trenchcoats of some sort. I've barely seen bits of snow in my life (and I had to travel all the way to Switzerland to do so!). Or maybe it's my custom to recline towards rich, dark colors and textures. Anyways, back to Balmain.
I've been an avid follower of Christophe Decarnin for a while and I've always agreed his polished yet rough edge has gone harmoniously with the Balmain aesthetic. It's sad to have seen him go for reasons a bit unknown. Supposedly he left because of health reasons (depressed, over worked and over exhausted), while others say something else went down. Being as he was so successful at this fashion house, I'm hopeful it's the former and not the latter.
The inspiration for this season's collections, both menswear and womenswear dip into the seventies, glam rock look. A bit different from the punk vibes the collection before this one had. Also, Decarnin worked with his new stylist Melanie Ward after Emmanuelle Alt was elevated to Editor in Chief of Vogue Paris.
The inspiration? Bowie circa Aladdin Sane.
Was it allusive? Yes.
Was it splattered all over the collection? No.
When you're inspired by something, you give wisps. A collection fails when it's references are evident (see Dior A.G. [after Galliano]). I could definitely picture passionate, bright young things during the Bowie era rocking with each and every look from this collection shinning beneath concert lights. Glam, glam glam! Crisp lines, heavy shoulder pads, sleek shimmer and more loose forms ruled the collection. One of the things that excited me the most about this collection was that the übertight pencil pants were exchanged for more loose fit pants. Dare I say they're a bit more harem and less rockstar, but they work. They work because the proportions of this collection have been trimmed to a more masculine cut (a bridge between menswear and womenswear) and of course, the use of metallic fabrics and embellishments help them fuse the inspiration into the collection seamlessly.They're cropped to below the knee and cinched off with almost knee high boots. The same happened with the jackets and boy, oh boy do I want one (someday... *sniff sniff*). Yes, I think Bowie would love one too. The best thing about collections like this one is that these are basically all separates that can be mixed and matched with just about anything. Like I said before, versatile and functional. I think the jackets are timeless which is a plus for me because although they're inspired by a seventies feel. These pieces are indeed wardrobe investments, and you do want to get the most out of them. I think these could be used years from now and they'll still seem relevant. As well as the iconic minidresses and blouses. You could slip them on with some tights, a nice pump and simple or rocker chic makeup and you'll be stunning, a simple black dress with those trim and fur shoulder pads and you've reinvented your LBD, some ankle boots with these pants and off you go!
Like many others, I think this collection was a graceful farewell for Decarnin. It's sad to have seen him go, but his health comes first. Quite a tizzy was formed when that spot was left open. Olivier Rousteing took his place and if you have been up to date with the S/S 12' collections, you'll know he's shown that he earned his place as creative director for Balmain. I'm quite excited with the new collection but for this post, we'll stay focused on f/f 11'.
Picture source: style.com
Picture source: style.com