MILWAUKEE — Imagine the circumstances under which you would wear this Balenciaga coat, which is essentially just seven coats sewn together.
Do you want to appear as if you are going on a long trip and have layered to avoid paying an extra baggage fee? Are you angling to be the most fashionable person at the International Arctic Research Center this winter? Perhaps you are just cold, so very cold, and the only way to sooth the deep chill in your bones is to swaddle yourself like a child in bolt after bolt of comforting cotton and polyester.
Whatever the occasion, this is a coat that tells a story. A story with layers.
Balenciaga’s uber-parka is part of their ski-themed Autumn/Winter collection that debuted in March during Paris Fashion Week. It is now available in two one-size-fits-all versions: A sensible navy and khaki mix for men ($8,125) and a kicky teal for women ($7,400).
The product’s description doesn’t make it clear if each coat functions separately, which would be quite a bargain, or whether there is some illusion work at play that only gives the appearance of seven coats, like a coat dickey. On the other hand, if fashion is about the experience and not just the prevention of nudity, perhaps Balenciaga wants you to work your way through the Dantean environments of each and every layer as they come.
If you are like so many fashion lovers online, you may find yourself consumed with thoughts about the coat. Why does it remind you of Joey from that episode of “Friends” where he tried to wear every item in his closet at the same time? Why do you suddenly feel the urge to put away the giant pile of clean laundry that’s permanently affixed to the chair in the corner of your bedroom? That’s just Balenciaga’s ethos at work. This is the house, after all, that brought us the $2,000 bag that looks like a $2 IKEA tote. Making subversive items that haunt your waking thoughts is kind of their thing. It’s art.
Seven layers of cozy, floppy mismatched art.