AHEAD OF THE LAUNCH OF BALENCIAGA: SHAPING FASHION EXHIBITION AT THE VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM IN LONDON, HERE ARE 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE FASHION HOUSE.
- Visitors of the exhibition will get an look into the inner workings of Cristobal Balenciaga’s couture masterpieces – literally. More than 100 garments and 20 hats will be dissected using x-rays by Nick Veasey and digital animations, revealing how the fashion designer created many of his iconic pieces.
- The exhibition will focus on the designer’s work during his golden period in the 1950s and 1960s. Considered the most creative period of his career, the Spanish designer created sculptural masterpieces during that time, including the Envelope dress worn by Alberta Tiburzi.
- The designer, whilst incredibly talented, was also painfully shy and granted only one full interview in his lifetime. It was writer Prudence Glyn of The Times who was given this honour. She interviewed him in 1971.
- During his time, Balenciaga earned industry acclaim from his exacting peers, including Christian Dior and Diana Vreeland. Even Coco Chanel once said about him: ”Balenciaga is a true couturier. Only he is able to cut fabric, assemble it and sew it with his own hands. The others are merely draftsmen.”
- The designer boasted a very intimate and close relationship with his clientele. In his adolescence, the most prominent woman of his town, the Marquesa de Casa Torres, took a particular liking towards him. She eventually became his patron and client, eventually sending him to Madrid for formal training in tailoring and proudly wearing his creations.
- The fashion designer achieved success in his home country of Spain, opening stores in San Sebastián, Madrid and Barcelona. He also dressed Spanish royalty and aristocracy. However, Spanish Civil War eventually forced him to close shop, and relocate to Paris.
- His clothes were so good, that for some clients, they were literally to die for. During the rampage of World War II, clients risked travelling to Europe for his designs including his signature square coat.
- He preferred models who would bear a resemblance to his clients, rather than those who had good looks. In fact, he nicknamed them “monsters”, picking those who had similar body shapes to his clients. This unconventional approach is similar to Balenciaga’s current creative director, Demna Gvasalia, who casts real people through Facebook, from Instagram and his personal network.
- Balenciaga’s ground-breaking legacy is still felt in the catwalks of today. Many of his garments such as the shift dress and baby doll dress have now become staples. Modern designers who have referenced his work include Oscar de la Renta, Hubert de Givenchy and Molly Goddard.
- Whilst he is no longer here today, Balenciaga’s innovative spirit lives on. With Gvasalia at the helm of the Parisian fashion house, the brand continues to deliver exaggerated garments in both menswear and womenswear.
By: Daniel Kong