The corporate office – with its aesthetics, dynamics, structures, business jargon and stereotypes – has long provided a source of inspiration, from the power looks created by designers in the 1980s, the 1988 film Working Girl, and British sitcom The Office – a fictional documentary which debuted in 2001. It's the first and perhaps only time comedian Ricky Gervais and designer Nicolas Ghesquière will be grouped together. For his autumn/winter 2012 Balenciaga collection, Ghesquière offered up his own take on the office.
"I imagined a company, Balenciaga Inc., and what all the different women would wear to work there."
But that's where the similarities end. Instead of a Slough industrial estate, the Balenciaga show took place on the 27th floor of a Paris skyscraper, in the Beaugrenelle business district, which was built in the emerging economy of the 70s through the 90s and is currently under development. "I imagined a company, Balenciaga Inc., and what all the different women would wear to work there," explained the designer.
Ghesquière acknowledged office heirarchy and translated their stereotypical attire – bosses dressed in exaggerated bonded leather coats and sheer dresses with breastplates and IT girls in hi-tech jumpsuits. His sexy secretary sported futuristic animal prints. Ghesquière's self-titled "corporate spies" wore black satin sweatshirts with graphic slogans: "JOIN A WEIRD TRIP" and "OUT OF THE BLUE". The aesthetic was particularly reminscient to the logo for cult science-fiction adventure film Back To The Future. Pieces that will no doubt be as popular as those Givenchy Rottweiler tops.
Accessories came in the form of leather document holders and lace-up shoes, part trainer, part heels – perhaps a nod to those women who power walk to work and change into smarter shoes on arrival? Alongside bright 80s-style graphic earrings, were delicate gold earrings reminiscient of cacti. Perhaps these were the office plants Ghesquière imagined at Balenciaga Inc.?
Laura Bradley is the Commissioning Editor of AnOther and published her first series of Fashion Equations in May 2008. Tom Baxter is an illustrator currently living and working in London.