Just when I was about to assess Nicolas Ghesquière’s collection for Balenciaga—its urban guerilla look a return to his recent futuristic phase—along came the indomitable Cathy Horyn to drum up drama. On her blog, the great and feisty New York Times sleuth pointed to the resemblance between a striped T-shirt presented by Raf Simons in his summer 2007 men’s collection and the ones that appeared on the Balenciaga runway. Yet it’s safe to say that there is not one single designer who does not draw inspiration from past creations. So why do these matters take such a dramatic turn when they involve Ghesquière? Because the house of Balenciaga has put itself on a pedestal, implying the highest standard of creativity, which it certainly meets. Ghesquière is indisputably one of the greatest designers working today. As such, by wrapping the house in exclusivity, he invites special scrutiny.
That said, his spring propositions were very intriguing. The opening numbers, skintight motorcycle pants worn with sleeveless hoodies and those now-infamous T-shirts, drew a reed-thin silhouette. The show as a whole was a constant play on textures. Those hoodies, for example, were a mix of molded leather, woven jersey and nylon foam, while skirts with a spiky surface recalled porcupine quills, but which were actually cut pleats. Add to that irresistible sandal-boots and there’s no question that Ghesquière has the instincts of a true fashion designer—with the mind of a researcher.