Ah, Give Me Paris in the Springtime

Paris Fashion Week 2013 (yes, for those who don't know, high fashion is always six months ahead) is being unveiled this very minute in the City of Light. This morning, two standout collections will have fashionista tongues wagging: Balmain and Balenciaga. The former, designed by Olivier Rousteing, left photo, seems to have been inspired by the oeuvre of Claude Montana: big, Joan Crawford shoulders with cropped hemlines worn with wide-legged 1940s-style trousers in bold, eye-catching prints. The painstaking detail of Rousteing's clothes almost raises the level of their craftmanship to couture. Nicolas Ghesquière's Balenciaga collection for spring/summer 2013 was all about tailoring, as it always is: edgy, cool, precise, modern. Ghesquière seems to have raided the stellar Balenciaga archives for inspiration and was overwhelmed by what he saw: marvel at his flirty black and white flamenco skirt, right photo, and cropped origami top in glacial white. Other noteworthy pieces in the show include graphic dresses emblazoned with barbed wire motifs; an off-white peacoat cut with the freedom that only a kimono sans obi can give; a post-modern take on the sports bra paired with tuxedo pants, which opened the show; a pristine white lace shirtjacket over what appears to be a tweed miniskirt borrowed from the closet of Mademoiselle Chanel. Ghesquière further elaborated on the Chanel reference by sending out a half-dozen skirtsuits in heavy flecks of black and white tweed that make one wonder if they are at all conducive to wear in ninety-degree climates. Both shows are triumphs of construction. It's interesting to see as to who will have the guts to wear them come spring.