Balenciaga Isn't Relaunching Couture, But Yes, Those Were Couture Dresses

All eyes have been on designer Demna Gvasalia since he brought his own label, Vetements, to the streets and took the helm of French fashion house Balenciaga. Similar to the suspense before a theatrical Marc Jacobs show in the '90s, it seems the entire industry can't wait to see what the ultra-exclusive Gvasalia does next each prêt-à-porter season. For his latest trick at Balenciaga, the Belgian designer looked through heaps of archival photos — 30 years worth, to be exact — and did what, really, no designer has done before: Gvasalia ended Balenciaga's 100th anniversary show with nine couture dresses. But don't call it a couture revival just yet.

The last time Balenciaga sent a couture dress down the runway was in 1968, when founder Cristóbal Balenciaga left the house. Back then, the dresses were photographed lookbook-style and put away. Gvasalia revived the unseen records and used everything from the models' poses to the dresses silhouettes as inspiration, which is evident when looking at the line-up from head-to-toe. Each dress by Gvasalia bears more or less the same silhouette — wide, flouncy, anti-red carpet — are made-to-order, and are branded with the original 'BB' house logo (or labeled on the back with the year, collection, and garment description). Whether or not this acts as an extra selling point for those who actually buy couture is up for debate, but it adds an element of extravagance to the one-of-a-kind pieces.

Notes the press release, "Also, as a practical gesture, pockets have been added to several of the gowns." We're not sure practicality was of any concern when Gvasalia was formulating this season's line-up, but then again, the last adjective we think of when Vetements, or even Balenciaga, is concerned, is utilitarian. But it sure is fun to look at. Just last season, Gvasalia teased showgoers with a dose of their own medicine — a selection of stereotypes, right there, in plain view, for us to judge more than we already do. And, if you're looking for something more badass than a designer who can take his imagination from neon, safety-pin wearing street punks to something as ornate as French haute couture, well, we're going to go ahead and say that probably doesn't exist.

The ready-to-wear portion of the collection was sourced in the complimentary ideas of "spontaneous social habits" and "the reconsideration of existing objects," which are "specifically aimed at developing coolness and elegance for a new Balenciaga woman." Coolness, for sure: Gvasalia isn't here for celebrities (save for Kim Kardashian, thanks to an old Yeezy-Vetements connection), so it'd make sense that the silhouettes don't follow the red carpet-friendly formula of long, slim, and pretty. However, we're interested to see which A-listers will try their hand at the massive forms. And if they don't, well, if there's anything Gvaslia has proved thus far: The show will go on.

Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.