How to hone Balenciaga - without the Balenciaga price tag...
Londoners are in a frenzy over the weather. And quite rightly so, for this day last year I was reclining on my rooftop garden with a negroni in hand and a 3rd degree burn forming on my chest. Today, I look out of the window and on the high street beneath me is a sea of umbrellas and miserable old ladies in anoraks. I remain unfazed, however. The current climate reminds me of a distant land I once knew called Scotland, where if it's not mid-July then it is winter. And I'm equally pleased about said deluge, as I have just purchased (for the bargain price of £28) a mother-f**cking-bad-ass electric blue puffer jacket from Topshop which, for a bog-standard month of May, would be much too heavy. But the weather this May has conveniently aligned with my sartorial impulses saving me the 6 month delay until Autumn, or a potential move back to Scotland just to get some wear out of the bloody thing.
The jacket in question is tres Balenciaga AW16, which is a trend I've toyed with the idea of wearing ever since I saw Danish stylist Pernille Teisbaek in a wearable 80s combo straight off the catwalk back in September. I, and several other fashionistas, were at first dubious of the exaggerated silhouettes, shoulder pads and sharp stilettos, but they've since crept into the norm and street style stars like Italy's Chiara Capitani have been seen donning the puffer jacket and stiletto look - thus, the world follows.
In fashion terms, I'm a little late to the Balenciaga AW16 party - understandable, for its a daring trend. But (better late than never) 8 months post-catwalk I have finally decided to slide my pins into a pair of stirrup leggings and drape a puffer jacket off my turtleneck-clad shoulders. Furthermore, having surpassed 'the fear' of wearing such a bold look, I now feel confidently equipped to attempt Balenciaga's SS17 look this summer, which, providing the weather sorts itself out, is right around the corner. (Spoiler alert: the shoulder pads and electric block colours are here to stay).
The purpose of this article is to prevent my readers from experiencing the same sartorial jitters I did, and to prove that big trends such as these aren't just for fashion insiders. I've chosen to focus on two key Balenciaga looks which fashion it-girls are wearing right now, and throughout the course of this year are going become YUGE (that's 'huge' in Trumpspeak) trends for us normals. But what's a poor girl to do without a couple of grand to spend on a coat which is - less face it - far from timeless? I've got you covered. 😏
LOOK 1: AW16
If you're in the market for a high heel this year, make it white leather. High street stores are FINALLY churning out variations of the 80's-style shoe originally re-introduced into the fashion-sphere by Celine 2 years ago - and they're all good. Topshop offer a beautiful mule version, while Zara have given us an all-too-affordable sling-back kitten heel. If you're like me, and stilettos make you look like a 3-year-old trying on mummy's heels (not even heel grips can correct the gawkish slipping and sliding), then Balenciaga have the anecdote: hook a pair of stirrups over the heel! Gucci and Balenciaga have both re-established this once-equestrian look - but Mango have a pair for £49.99 which I much prefer for obvious reasons ($$$).
I managed to wangle my blue puffer from the never-ending closing down sale at Topshop in Putney. Its still available online for £35, but if you're £7 short then you know where to go. If you're attempting the puffer trend, search for something which is vibrant in colour and could be at home on the slopes of Zermatt. This is a look that can easily be translated into your summer wardrobe: replace the puffer with denim, a light bomber, or even a shirt - the key is to hang it off your shoulders (as demonstrated above and here) and keep it oversized.
LOOK 2: SS17
The SS17 show was all about block colours, 80s shoulders and vibrant florals. One needn't shed anymore light on the spandex thigh-highs - the Kardashians have already worn them in every colour. Last week's Dior Resort '18 show further hinted that a thigh-high boot that disappears under the skirt is going to be the height of fashion this year and Kendall Jenner confirmed this when she wore an Alexander McQueen variation in her editorial collab with Cole Sprouse in The Sunday Times Style last weekend. I'm yet to find a high-street version of Balenciaga's spandex thigh boots, but Zara have provided us with a gallant pair of fuchsia spandex ankle boots (pictured below) at a fraction of the price, which I would pair with fuchsia tights or leggings to mimic the colour-on-colour Balenciaga look. Block colour opaque tights are available in literally every colour from uktights.com and look great with a heeled sandal - Emili Sindlev has the right idea.
As for the top half, I recently updated an oversized Topshop blazer (similar to the one pictured below) with a pair of shoulder pads found on Ebay for £1.65, and I plan to do the same with my denim jackets. Pair either style with a hoodie and statement earrings for a more casual look, or with the afore-mentioned legging and sock-boot combo for a dressier feel. Immediate wardrobe transformation for the price of a double espresso.
If you're looking at the outfits I've pulled together and thinking, "Jesus, is this what fashion has come to?" Then the answer is very much yes. And while fashion is undoubtedly in a constant state of flux, at present the more bizarre you look, the better. Balenciaga, in all its misshapen glory, is top of the charts in fashion terms, but you need not a six-figure salary nor celebrity status to pull it off - you simply need the confidence to wear it...and an eye for a bargain!