There are a few designers of fashion who touch you deep within. You see their clothes on the pages of a fashion magazine worn by celebrities, or in advertisements, and you just stop and think, how beautiful.
Balenciaga has always made me feel this way. The dresses, skirts, bags by the iconic brand have always made me stop and take a closer look at the cut, the shape and the style.
So when I found out the Victoria & Albert was holding a Balenciaga exhibition I had to find out more.
The man behind the brand –
Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his first boutique in San Sebastian Spain, in 1919, which expanded to include branches in Madrid and Barcelona. The Spanish royal family and the aristocracy wore his designs, but when the Spanish Civil War forced him to close his stores, Balenciaga moved to Paris.
Balenciaga opened his Paris couture house on Avenue George V in August 1937, and his first fashion show featured designs heavily influenced by the Spanish Renaissance.
Balenciaga’s success in Paris was nearly immediate. In the period of two years, the French press lauded him as a revolutionary, and his designs were highly sought-after.
Customers risked their safety to travel to Europe during World War 2 to see Balenciaga’s clothing. During this period, he was noted for his “square coat,” with sleeves cut in a single piece with the yoke, and for his designs with black (or black and brown) lace over bright pink.
However, it was not until the post-war years that the full scale of the inventiveness of this highly original designer became evident. His lines became more linear and sleek, diverging from the hourglass shape popularized by Christian Dior.
Christian Dior once said,
Haute couture is like an orchestra, for which only Balenciaga is the conductor. The rest of us are just musicians, following the directions he gives us.
The Exhibition –
It was wonderful to see the designs up close. To wonder at how a person could fold and drape fabrics so intricately and almost magically.
The exhibition is perfect in that it gives you a wonderful glimpse intonthe world of this very talented man, and shows us how ahead of his time he was, and how mostly all the pieces on display could still be worn today.
The exhibition is still on at the Victoria & Albert Museum until February 18th, you must book tickets in advance.