Newly-appointed creative director of Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia, (also doing double duty on his own label, Vetements) has clearly spent his first six months at the brand playing student, hard at study in the archives. You can recognise his research in his considered understanding of house hallmarks; the avant-garde tailoring, the opera coats, the bell skirts, the trapeze frocks and hyper florals. But more pronounced is the designer's own signature and the unmistakable way he likes to challenge the status quo, in this case, forcing us to reconsider what it means to be elegant in 2016.
Taking the ready-to-wear collection to couture levels, Gvasalia architected suiting into high, moulded shoulders and exaggerated hourglass silhouettes. Then he took the humble windbreaker, precision-cut it into undeniably haute propotions and sculpted the collar awake from the neck - a design cue he repeated across shirting, aviator jackets and perfectos.
Even the denim jacket was dismantled, only to be re-engineered into a voluminous, drop-shouldered number. And then came the florals - patchworked in rich palettes and scarf prints, at times worn head-to-toe, at others paired with candy cane-striped hosiery. A finale of leather and fur three-quarter coats almost obscured what are sure to be the new season's It-jeans, not unlike the frenzy-inducing pairs he made for Vetements that put him on the fashion map.
Gvasalia gets modern, roughed-up elegance. Forget the jeans, the whole collection is 'It'.