The Strange New Shape of Balenciaga's Spring 2014 Woman

Alexander Wang's second collection for Balenciaga featured clothing that caught the eye with its structural, sculptural elements, but that remained strangely aloof from the models' bodies. Nothing clung to the figure, nothing displayed feminine curves in a particularly sensual way. Even though the collection was full of elements that should have conjured up the idea of young girlhood, like crop tops, pale pink, and ribbed gym shorts, the overall effect was intelligent, a little bit severe, and very grown-up.

Peplums are typically used to create an hourglass figure, but in these looks, they're simply a way to add extra volume to already voluminous trousers, used to hide the figure, not enhance it. The solid-color peplums call to mind masculine tuxedo tails, and although there are glimmers of skin — exposed underarms, transparent stripes, crop tops — they're almost swallowed up by the surrounding fabric.

These looks should be girly — pale pink, peekaboo skin, transparency, ruffles — but these aren't clothes for the carefree. The line of skin beneath the white cape is too severe to allow cleavage, the dress in the middle pairs space-age ruffles with an athletic neckline, and the micro-suit eliminates any thought of sensuality with a shroud of its own and an intense choker.

Here, the oversized shoulders of the opening look drew attention away from the leggy mini skirt.

This pouty Lolita outfit is belied by its own high neck and severely voluminous sleeves. That intimidating center part doesn't help, either.

Although the Balenciaga show didn't shy away from skin, there wasn't a single look that purposefully emphasized the figure underneath. This was a collection for the mind, not the body.

Images: @fashionfwd_ash, @pradageemag, @iwearmysariwithjeans, and @alteregomag via Instagram