PFW SS17: Balenciaga Shows Bleggings, Makes Latex Fashionable, And Finally Gets The Diversity Memo

The perfect three-way between sex, glamour and cool

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No you're not imagining things, that flesh-coloured latex hooded cape does resemble a you-know-what. The world of sex and fetishism was on the brain as Demna Gvasalia created his sophomore collection for Balenciaga.

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He wanted to explore the obsessive nature of fashion and how, as the press notes explained, 'the ultimate object of desire is the one which remains out of reach.'

And as the guy who created some of the year's most in demand clothes and accessories — whether it be his cheeky riff on the Thai shopping bags for Balenciaga or his top-selling, very literal, yet very conceptual take on the DHL shirts for Vetements — he understands the allure of a good piece more than most.

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So he produced a collection meant to literally stoke the act of lust, with Kim Kardashian revealing maximum cleavage in a Balenciaga trench and thigh high boots on the front row. He showed shiny spandex stiletto bleggings (the portmanteau we're using to describe his hybrid boot leggings) and drapey halter neck tops and dresses, for example.

They came in bold jewel colours and loud floral prints and were equal parts tacky and amazing. So wrong it's right. Just like his big and bold-shouldered jackets and coats, which frankly looked so odd when he first introduced them to the world and now appear desirable.

For proof: see all the women who have been wearing his shoulder padded blazers and outerwear around town this week or all the other runways that have featured bold shoulder pads this month. As challenging as the look is, you can't deny it's influence. And I guarantee it's coming to your nearest Zara.

For spring, he pushed the shape even further with even bigger shoulders on outerwear that came in respectable tan, toffee and navy, in addition to a racier version in S&M appropriate glossy black patent.

And to create the highest feeling of thirst, he pulled massive brooches from the archives and used them on looks throughout the show.

The end result was the perfect three-way between cool, sex and glamour and confirmed the erotic new mood spreading through the spring. This has been a runway season in which Hood By Air produced a collection sponsored by PornHub and Anthony Vaccarello turned out the luxury fashion equivalent of a freakum dress for Saint Laurent. And it reflects a shift away from traditional streetwear for Demna.

Meanwhile, he's made a very smart move in the right direction with his model casting after failing to cast a single non-white model in his shows for Vetements and Balenciaga last March (and in truth, all of the previous Vetements.)

But when you consider the amount of criticism he received over it, he didn't really have a choice? It's one thing to do seasons of all-white, street casting for an emerging label like Vetements, another to do it at a massive global brand like Balenciaga.

This season, he (finally!) showed a range of skin tones through new and familiar faces including Radhika Nair, Dilone, Naki Depass, Achok Majak, Grace Bol and Alek Wek. In this day and age, a runway that doesn't have diversity not only looks wrong and out of step with the times from a societal angle, it's also a silly business move. Because, hello, people of colour have money to spend on clothes. And this collection had plenty to love and want to wear.

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