When I noted on my Instagram that the way this dress is ruffled reminded me of a beloved childhood dress of mine, I wasn’t just aiming for a smart punch line to jibe with the dress’s 80s vibes.
As a little kid, I was dressed enthusiastically by a stylish mother and a dear friend of hers who designed and made children’s dresses as a hobby. The auntie (as I call her) made and sent me one new dress each summer. Each piece was so well thought-out and distinct with meticulous hand sewn details that almost people thought my parents shopped at fancy department stores in Tokyo.
One of the dresses that auntie made me was cut out of a pale-blue striped cotton fabric, and adorned with ruffles around the neckline, along the short puffy sleeves and the skirt hem. The front was also decorated with a diagonally placed short stripe of ruffle and some colorful hand embroidered flowers and leaves. It was such a favorite that until today I recall the details vividly.
The lengthy details above were to say how our childhood experiences serve as constant inspiration and references into our lives in, often times, unexpectedly large magnitude and extent. If a designer is able to capture and invoke that part of memory, s/he’s nailed it.
This ruffled dress by Balenciaga feels fond and strikingly contemporary with and an updated bold print and deconstructed back and silhouette. I thought of the childhood dress immediately when I tried it on. And I thought to myself: with concepts as fluid as creativity, there really is no such thing as an outdated idea; it’s always how the idea is executed makes it or breaks it.