The house's latest couture collection took place on 5 July at Balenciaga's 10 Avenue George V atelier and couture salon in Paris, which recently underwent an extension that was completed by architecture studio Sub.
The show began with an archival look that saw Balenciaga's creative director Demna reinterpret a design by the house's founder, Cristóbal Balenciaga, made between the years 1964 to 1968.
A series of sharp, tailored looks, which are typically associated with couture, followed and featured curved-V necklines that drew on the hemlines of Cristóbal Balenciaga's tailored jackets.
As the presentation progressed and more classical couture looks left the salon catwalk, trompe l'œil fabrics made from hand-painted raw linen and constructed into suiting began to emerge.
The hand-painted raw linen looks replicated the appearance of fabrics and materials such as full grain leather, houndstooth and python. Each of the garments featured hand-painted buttons and tailoring details including lapels, pockets and pleats.
Dimension was added to the raw linen via oil paint brushstrokes, which according to Balenciaga can take up to 280 hours to complete.
A duo of trompe l'œil fur coats were also created from oil-painted linen painted by hand. In an effort to reveal the hand-painted quality of the coats, the edges of the cuffs and bottom of the coats were purposely left unfinished to expose the hundreds of brushstrokes and raw linen beneath.
Handpainted trompe l'œil jeans were also created from cotton covered in oil paint.
Windblown outerwear, such as sculpted scarves and cotton floor-length trench coats, appeared to be frozen in time. The garments were hand-sculpted and constructed using knitted, bonded liners that were used to reinforce the external fabric to achieve the windswept look.
"Taking inspiration from a piece by British painter and draughtsman Lucian Freud, the "Coup De Vent" overcoat is designed to look like it's blowing in the wind," Balenciaga explained.
"An innovative knitted material is bonded to the inside of the wool and allows the piece to be shaped by hand using heated irons to reflect the wind's momentum," the brand added.
"This process requires two days of work and makes each piece unique."
The final look of the collection replaced the traditional bridal wear that typically closes a couture show. It saw Balenciaga present a 3D-printed armour dress printed from galvanised resin and polished in chrome, with a hem that skimmed millimetres above the carpets of the salon.
"Rigid and reflective, it embodies a temporal crossroads, fusing classical techniques with cutting-edge advancements. It also demonstrates a new reality," said Balenciaga.
"Maybe [Joan of Arc] wouldn't have been burned at the stake for wearing men's clothes if she was wearing that," Demna told Vogue following the show.
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The armour dress closed the show
It is not the first time Balenciaga has showcased armour-style looks in a show. For the brand's Autumn Winter 2021 collection, titled Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, it presented a series of Chevalier boots, shoes and gloves within a video game presentation.
At Balenciaga's 51st couture collection, the brand collaborated with Danish audio brand Bang & Olufsen to create a limited-edition bag that it described as "part bag, part Bluetooth sound system".
The photography is courtesy of Balenciaga.