by Penny Martin .

Balenciaga Appointment

It's rare for individual garments to live up to rave reviews like the ones Balenciaga has recieved this season. But in the case of these dresses, the Spring/Summer collection actually *surpasses* all the effusive praise lavished upon it by the fashion press. The house is shrewd in being transparent about its use of history: these are reworked versions of a 1960s dress sourced from the redoubtable Balenciaga archive. To prove it, an exact copy hangs next to the new pieces. The paradox is that the new ones appear modern through their use of historical construction techniques and light-faded fabrics, reminiscent of late 18th and early 19th century dress. The mystery is how they keep it so cool and unfanciful.