Balenciaga Womenswear A/W11

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Balenciaga A/W11
Balenciaga A/W11Illustrations by Tom Baxter

Nicolas Ghesquière cited a magnifying glass when discussing his design approach backstage at his A/W11 show for Balenciaga, but the 35-look collection also brought to mind fishing nets and humbug sweets...

For Balenciaga autumn/winter 2011, Nicolas Ghesquière took a surrealist approach to his designs. "This season was a game of proportion, zooming in on textures. The way seeing things with a magnifying glass can give you different, shifting points of view", he revealed post show. Ghesquière's experimentation with perspective and scale resulted in sculptural vests with large spherical buttons and soft oversized coats. Chunky bomber jackets and clutch bags woven from thick bands of rubber were inspired by how textiles look under a microscope. In the vein of Alice in Wonderland there were 'worlds' were you least expected – on stiletto shoes, the delicate rococo details on the uppers extended to the soles. These designs were of course accompanied by Ghesquière's house codes which he remains loyal to – bright, graphic flashes of colour, bracelet sleeves, balloon shapes and streamline trousers – as well a nod to the house's founder with a pair of coats inspired by a Cristobal design from 1965.

It of course always fun to add a few uncited references to an equation – commonplace objects or themes that pop into one's mind when looking at a collection. One example is the humbug sweet, the traditional hard-boiled, peppermint-flavoured confectionary recognisable for its long, monochrome-stripe exterior. Black and white stripes were used on long and short-sleeved tops and jackets; the Mary Janes courtesy on longtime collaborator Pierre Hardy, featured multiple straps which made the feet look humbug-esque.

Another object the collection brought to mind was the fishing net, with the traditional diamond-shaped black mesh featuring in a number of the looks. Interestingly Ghesquière grew up in a small fishing village, in the 9,000 inhabitants Poitevine town of Loudon. Ghesquière and his team used the net fabric on a jacket that came with leather shoulder details, on a knee-length skirt and on the built up shoulders of a short-sleeved jacket, backed by white and then bright pink. Maison Martin Margiela has also favoured net in the past, featuring in both its spring/summer 2007 and autumn/winter 2008 collections. Innovation is key to Ghesquière's working process and he furthered the idea of the black mesh with dresses stitched with lengths of copper mesh that sculpted the neckline and created a three-dimensional drape at the hip.

Research assistance by Yana Sheptovetskaya

The next Fashion Equation will be published in two weeks.

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.