2010 September 30

Runway Reviews: Balmain, Zac Posen

Balmain Spring 2011 Balmain Spring 2011
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And you thought the eighties trend was fini. The brief resurgence seen in Christopher Bailey's bedazzled biker jackets at Burberry were only the beginning. For Spring, Christophe Decarnin infused his usual rock-chic staples with a distinctly Americana flair, beginning with Daria's white leather biker jacket distressed with a faded stars and stripes motif. More motorcycle jackets followed in red, white, stonewashed denim, and of course, black, giving that power-shopping Balmainiac at least twenty reasons to be tempted. (At these prices, she'll only buy one—unless her last name rhymes with Ello Lusso.) Distressed cotton tanks were torn, faded, and burned. Skintight trousers in Decarnin's usual mix of leathers, lamés, denim, and sequins were de rigeur. The cropped trouser length and use of hundreds of safety pins on nearly every garment were the most significant new tricks employed for Spring. Leather microshorts and tattered fishnets drove the message home—but just in case you missed it, the heavy metal jams pounding the catwalk left little room for interpretation. This look doesn't feel entirely new, but it's to Decarnin's credit that it still feels desirable—and has plenty of impact on the sales floor.

To properly commemorate his Paris debut, Zac Posen played with iconic elements of French style—tweed jackets, lace, transparency, and above all, plumes—to an effect that many would dub "imaginative." First, it takes a lot of courage and a smidge of bravura to present your collection on top models from Coco to Carmen in the gilded ballroom of the Westin, which has recently hosted Balmain and Vivienne Westwood. And despite a few standard tweed jackets, many looks, including a handful of full-length catsuits, were unabashedly sheer (with a few solid panels thrown in for decency's sake.) The effect was undeniably sexy, if a bit tricky—especially when there were piles of plumes stuck on the hips, spine, and shoulders. Posen worked in a luscious palette of nude, blush, bordeaux, plum, and black, and while the separates appear to have occasionally escaped his tight control, Posen's most successful looks showed sharp focus. As usual, the gowns shined, especially origami silk columns in ombré satin.