>> Fall 2009 has turned out to be the season of new for Nicolas Ghesquiere and Balenciaga: new show location, new softness, new openness to models of color. Instead of showing at the brand's headquarters on the Left Bank as usual, Ghesquiere took the show to Hotel Crillon, with its gold and cream atmosphere and the models walking through French doors. The official blame for the move goes to neighbors around the HQ, who apparently didn't like the loud soundtrack, but some wondered if it wasn't prompted by Balmain's move to the Ritz this season — a little venue rivalry?
Nonetheless, the typically whitewashed Balenciaga runway felt a little influx of models of color this season; Liya Kebede opened, and Chanel Iman walked, her first time for the label — last time a model of color walked, as far as I can tell, was Fall 2006 — Liya Kebede. Newcomers Johanna Kneppers and twin Gwen Loos made their first runway appearances. As for the clothes, Ghesquiere took away the recent robo-chic, instead experimenting with draping and satin — two techniques he admitted he'd never really worked with before. The result is garnering '80s Yves Saint Laurent and Dynasty comparisons, and perhaps a little uncertainty, but there's definitely a future for the high-slit, splotchy-printed dresses — Francois-Henri Pinault thought so, he was there with new wife Salma Hayek in the front row.
*image: source, source