2008, a Space Oddity as Balenciaga Reaches for the Stars; Star Spangled: Natalia Vodianova Wears Her Heart on Her Chest as Balenciaga Featured High Shine Metallics and Futuristic Designs, Left, Photographer Patrick Demarchelier with US Vogue Editor Anna Wintour at the Show

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Byline: LAURA CRAIK

GROUND control to Major Tom! At the Balenciaga show, there was more than a touch of the space age, as designer Nicolas Ghesquiere continued his fascination with all things futuristic in a stellar collection that was the highlight of the day.

Even supermodel Natalia Vodianova was persuaded out of retirement to open the show, clad in a milky pink draped jersey dress with a protruding heartshaped bodice. The 26-year-old Russian model, who is married to English landowner Justin Portman, quit the catwalk last year to focus on bringing up her three young children.

For many, Balenciaga is the hottest ticket of Paris fashion week and of the whole month-long fashion season. But as with most of the biggest innovators, Ghesquiere strongly divides opinion. If you love fashion, you'll love Ghesquiere. And if you think fashion is foolish, you will certainly find his clothes more foolish than most. To the untrained eye, many of his creations look so outlandish as to be unwearable.

This hasn't stopped Balenciaga becoming one of the most desired and profitable brands of the moment, with Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Matches operating lengthy waiting lists for popular items. …