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Paris Fashion Week Day 6: Balenciaga offers a high-class riff on fetish wear

Paris Fashion Week Day 6: Balenciaga offers a high-class riff on fetish wear
Looks from the Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2017 runway collection presented on October 2, 2016, during Paris Fashion Week. (Monica Feudi / Balenciaga)

Did you know that Spandex was invented in 1958? That was one of the pieces of fashion trivia in the Balenciaga show notes. Here's another one: Around the same time, the label's namesake founder, Cristobal Balenciaga, was developing a fabric called silk organza gazar. Creative director Demna Gvasalia, in his sophomore effort for the brand, took inspiration from that bit of happenstance, creating a Spring/Summer 2017 collection that explored "the intimate relationship between couture and fetishism."

The result was a striking contrast between voluminous, outsized garments on top and practically painted-on Spandex from hip to toe-tip. North of the navel saw otherwise unremarkable garments — puffer vests, windbreakers, men's tailored jackets, multi-pocket utility vests, raincoats and trench coats – jacked up like they were on steroids, with whalebone inserts giving the jackets the sort of exaggerated shoulder rarely seen this side of David Byrne in the 1984 Talking Heads video for "Girlfriend Is Better."

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But even the non-enhanced silhouettes seemed to have a stronger-than-usual shoulder thanks to the form-fitting Spandex trou that encased not just the legs but the stiletto heels they balanced on, which elongated the look of the models' already preposterously long legs. The most memorable of the elastane-elongated looks came in cotton-candy pink and an assortment of florals, many of which came down the catwalk with matching dresses or tops.

The collection also had a few less-subtle nods to the fetish theme, most memorably a black patent bonded rubber-leather parka and a hooded latex cape that tied under the chin, the latter looking like something out of a Little Red Riding Hood safe-sex PSA.

Looks from the Spring/Summer 2017 Givenchy runway collection presented on October 2, 2016, during Paris Fashion Week.
Looks from the Spring/Summer 2017 Givenchy runway collection presented on October 2, 2016, during Paris Fashion Week. (Left to right, Francois Mori / AP Photo, Alain Jocard / AFP / Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images, Alain Jocard / AFP / Getty Images)

Givenchy

Closing out the Sunday run of shows was Givenchy (which, on a side note, was the last of the shows Kim Kardashian was seen at before she was reportedly robbed at gunpoint in the early hours of Monday), where Riccardo Tisci gave rock star a whole new meaning thanks to swirly geode-print dresses and chunky necklaces that included polished slabs of the rocks as big as drink coasters.

The collection was reportedly all about spirituality – referenced by way of mandala prints and patterns – but the combination of the geodes, the heavy duty crystal embellishment across the bodice of several looks and the presence of chunky zip-off utility pouches – not to mention the Jardins des Plantes venue's proximity to the Mineralogy Museum – created the mental image of well-heeled geologists on the hunt.

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me @ARTschorn.

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