This is a bittersweet one for me - the first Balenciaga collection following Nicolas Ghesquière's departure and replacement with Alexander Wang. I adored Ghesquière's vision, his exquisite eye for style always excited me, so I was a little dubious when Wang was named his successor. That said, the collection this season is immensely good. It settles somewhere in the region of austere and luxurious - almost matronly. And then, the campaign...





...it's just so up my street. Dark, evocative, stunning photography that tells a story. The hair, created by Julien D'Ys, is the same as that featured in the runway show, a distressed wet look featuring some kind of tightly-hugging black band. It was never like this under Ghesquière, I must admit. Nicolas always favoured much more fashion-forward, wearable looks. This, on the other hand, is designed to inspire.

Perhaps it was that Wang went digging into the archives of the house, (note that this approach worked for Raf Simons at Dior), inspiring the marble seen on the runway and subsequently in the garments, a symbol of timeless style under the Balenciaga name. Cristóbal himself designed through the second world war, where the line between rich and poor was heavily drawn. That's what I get from this, a feeling of expense in a context of darkness and depression. The hair is not polished with soft bristles or supported by a salon blow-dry. Instead it's strict, with brush lines showing and held in place with what could even be a rag.

What it says is that beauty and style are contextual and open to interpretation. That you do what it takes to make it work, even if it's not the done thing. And when it's done with this much conviction, in our times of economic crisis, it actually makes a whole lot of sense.