We've come to expect nothing less than mind-bending wardrobe revolutions from Balenciaga, whose bi-annual runway shows still do for fashion what Aphex Twin releases used to do for electronica: break conventions and reinvent norms in an instant. It's difficult to pinpoint a contemporary musical pathfinder on par with the Spanish label's creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière, but his pioneering ideas continue to exert a massive influence over the upper echelons of the pop music pecking order. When Jay-Z raps about Balenciaga, it's with a desire not only to associate with the luxury, but the intellectualism and modern complexity the brand represents. This is thinking-person's fashion (with a new muse to match in Charlotte Gainsbourg), and though Balenciaga rarely regards its past (unlike Dior) or present (unlike Balmain) real-world popularity on its own runway, Ghesquière is aware of a need for a quick fix, the catchy runway equivalent of a three-minute earworm.
And so for Fall 2012, he launched a series of instantly Tumblr-worthy leather "sweaters," stacked in retro-futuristic cosmic visuals and Dune-era sloganeering. One reading "Join A Weird Trip" is festooned in an irradiated rainbow spectrum. Another featuring Jem's doppelganger says "Out of the Blue," while "Special Presentation" features unicorns. It's all very strange yet oh-so-familiar to children of the Eighties and their not-so-distant younger peers, who half-ironically consume a borrowed past on YouTube. In any case, in a show filled with exciting new silhouettes, ideas about how skirts should look on a woman and, as always, a radiant and unnerving palette, these were the standout items, the "instant sell-outs" in waiting.
Knowing Balenciaga's prohibitively expensive price point, we predict curious shoppers should be prepared to fork over in the low thousands for one of these postmodern Ugly Sweaters. Unless, of course, you're a musician with wonky wardrobe tastes, in which case you've probably already reserved one of these for usage in your next "out of this world" music video."Post-Internet" heroine Grimes comes immediately to mind as the ideal pop avatar to sport these punchy novelty items, obsessed as she is with bad Eighties sci-fi lore as well as its place in 2012's digital life. That is, of course, unless Nicki Minaj beats her to it. As for Lady Gaga, she needs no sweater to proclaim her extrarrestrial origins: she was already born that way.
Watch Balenciaga's futuristic Fall 2012 collection, complete with static backdrop, here: