Two looks from Balenciaga's Spring 2011 menswear collection. All images courtesy of Style.com.
The Balenciaga Spring 2011 menswear collection probes contemporary unisex fashion with a sharp set of predominantly black and white outfits. “Unisex” may not be the best fitting term to describe the waist-accentuating belts and wide-legged trousers, but “feminine” would be even less so. The garments appear decidedly masculine, favoring geometric tailoring in lieu of organic patterns. But nonetheless, the collection also recalls the shapes and silhouettes recently in vogue among style-savvy women.
With their stark contrasts and clean edges, the outfits trade the nostalgia of vintage for a modern, functional aesthetic. Many of the looks feature slender windbreakers and leather jackets, with none of the top-heavy elements of the blazer. The sleeves and shoulders fit snugly, offset by a somewhat flared-out torso. This upside-down triangle arrangement on top recalls the loose-blouse-and-skinny-jeans combination many ladies currently sport. Though I’m sure girls would love to steal these jackets from their guy friends’ closets, the black ankle-skimmers and white leather boat shoes paired with them look as if they were borrowed from The Sartorialist’s vision of manliness and luxury.
In contrast to the somewhat austere city vibe of many of the jackets, some of the collection’s wide-legged trousers and zebra-print fabrics look like a minimalist throwback to the flamboyance of the disco era. But instead of going all-out with sequins or bell-bottoms, Balenciaga subtly infuses its contemporary fare with elements of the infamous New York and Paris discotheques. Many of the trousers sit high on the body, with cascading pant legs flowing down from a waist-cinching belt. The high-collared shirts and coattails mellow the vibrancy of the belted pants—without platforms or a chest-baring v-neck, guys shouldn’t worry about looking as if they’ve caught Saturday Night Fever.
Though it may not be apparent at a first glance, many shapes explored in Balenciaga’s Spring 2011 menswear collection subtly echo their female Resort 2011 counterparts, offering equal-opportunity silhouettes flattering for both men and women. Nicolas Ghesquiere seems to have his finger on the pulse of the young urban sophisticate, and his designs will likely trickle down to more affordable runway copy-cat retailers come spring.