I have a fond place for couture. When I studied couture several of the big houses at the time were closing their couture completely or focusing on ready to wear, it was sad to know what the future held and several of my teachers spent thirty years in the ateliers finishing their careers by passing on their techniques to the next generation not knowing what the future held. With Balenciaga showing their 51st couture collection and Demna’s 2nd for the House, there is a new world for couture and with the Balenciaga Couture Store opening on Avenue George V 5 (in its original Couture location where it first opened in 1937), we are experiencing a new gateway to couture made up of advanced technology alongside traditional techniques.

The most striking difference between today from yesteryears is the introduction of menswear to couture. While several designers have explored this idea in recent years, no one with the validation of a big house has taken such a stride forward. Yes, the collection was still made up of beautiful dresses, but one of them in bubble gum pink was cut and fitted on a male chest. Denim, another absentee from couture collections historically, now firmly holds a place. In the same universe of sequined dresses are jet-beaded jeans that take up to thousands of hours to hand-sew. Even on closer inspection the raw-like edges spotted are actually meticulously finished embroidery. Even T-shirts are bonded with aluminum, creating an entirely new fabric that holds its shape when manipulated. And dare I say, that I think I spotted a cargo reference on a pair of leather-like trousers.

Opening up the collection was a series of face shields in coated polyurethane engineered by Mercedes- AMG F1 Applied Science, a division of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd. dedicated to leveraging aerospace and motorsport tech. Their aerodynamic, anti-fog capability and breathability were developed over months of testing. They might be giving off the feeling of anonymity, but such masks are an experience to see how others interact with you. Like additional armor, models walked out with a Speaker Bag, a functional purse as well as a portable state-of-the-art sound system (part of a collaboration with Bang & Olufsen), milled from a block of solid aluminum before being pearl-blasted, anodized, and hand- polished over a several-day period.

Demna has always had an affinity with power shoulders, but gone are the boxed and structure opting for a round shoulder additionally cocoon silhouettes have evolved into nods to a wasp sartorial waist, one that could have possibly been boned. Couture after all is about the drape and fit. Demna has clearly identified his silhouette for fall. With all of the problems in the world, from climate change to the recession, couture might seem useless and silly to talk about silhouettes. But in a world of fast disposable fashion, couture is more relevant than ever, we need to shift culturally to a slow fashion movement. Even if we can’t afford to buy into the couture dream, knowing that over a quarter of the collection is made with upcycled items, should encourage many people out there that upcycling and circular fashion can trickle up and down. Now we can all practice deconstructing and reconstructing our old garments into new ones, taking some tips from Demna of course.