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July 26 2014

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150 posts tagged "Balenciaga"

A Pretty Scandal: Revisiting the Fifties at the Palais Galliera

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Fifties dresses

Long before Olivier Saillard arrived to shake things up as director of the Palais Galliera, the fashion museum of the City of Paris had established a tradition of mounting exhibitions around a given decade, such as the twenties or thirties.

With The 50s: Fashion in France, 1947-1957, which opens on July 12, Saillard sought to honor that heritage and also remind the world that the fifties, at least in fashion terms, was a few years ahead of the Gregorian calendar. “It was really that revolutionary bomb of Christian Dior’s New Look in 1947 that brought the decade into the fifties,” Saillard commented during a preview. A decade later, Mr. Dior died suddenly and his young assistant, Yves Saint Laurent, moved to the helm. In between those bookends flourished what was arguably the last golden era of couture. “I like the idea of putting the couture heritage out there, because right now we’re seeing several young designers who are redeveloping it in their own way,” observed Saillard. “It’s also an era that’s joliment scandaleuse [prettily scandalous] as much at the beginning as the end.”

The Galliera’s considerable trove includes a lot of Dior. (Consider for a moment that by the mid-fifties, Dior alone accounted for 49 percent of French fashion’s total exports.) A Bar suit stands sentry at the entrance, followed swiftly by the rose pink Bonbon dress from Dior’s first collection and the asymmetrical peplumed Bernique (Winter ’50-’51), a recent discovery. But Saillard and his team bring to the fore other remarkable, iconic wares, including a 1954 Chanel suit (a look the Americans were quicker than the French to embrace, he noted, precisely because it was made to be worn from morning to cocktail hour). Elsewhere, a 1954 black Balenciaga suit that looks as though it could have stepped off the runway yesterday keeps company with pieces by Carven, Balmain, Fath, Givenchy, Cardin, Schiaparelli, and Saint Laurent, among others. All-but-unknowns get play, too, such as Jean Dessès, Grès, Henry a la Pensée, and Jacques Heim, a star of the time who costumed films such as Falbalas (known in English as Paris Frills).

“There’s a real feeling of destiny about this decade,” observed Saillard. “When you map out the stars, there are so many houses we still talk about. Givenchy, Saint Laurent, and Karl Lagerfeld were taking their first steps in fashion, and it’s also a time when future greats, such as Christian Lacroix and Jean Paul Gaultier, were born. So many names are anchored in that decade in one way or another, it’s very strange.”

The show’s staging resurrects old nuggets from fashion’s lexicon (day suit, day dress, late-afternoon dress, city dress, tea dress, travel coat, etc.), a reminder of how much things have changed. “Today it’s just a dress,” quipped Saillard, rattling off a few numbers that speak volumes, too: There were 106 couture houses in Paris in 1946, a number that had dwindled to thirty-six by 1958.

Given that there are more than a hundred pieces displayed, highlights are too numerous to list here, but they include clever beachwear (a yellow popover by Hermès practically begs for re-edition), accessories, and evening dresses once worn by style icons: the Duchess of Windsor’s Palmyre dress by Dior (1952) is one of the museum’s most precious pieces. Nearby, the 1957 Opium dress from Dior’s last collection (Winter 1957) was donated by Best Dressed legend Jacqueline de Ribes, who will be the subject of her own exhibition at the Met next year.

The 50s: Fashion in France, 1947-1957 runs from July 12 to November 2 at Paris’ Palais Galliera

Photo: Courtesy Photo

EXCLUSIVE: Watch Balenciaga Resort ’15 in Action

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Alexander Wang’s sailboat-inspired Resort ’15 Balenciaga collection, which cruised down the runway in New York yesterday, marked the designer’s first full year at the storied house. “At the beginning, it was about the idea of architectural forms and symmetry, the 360-degree view,” Wang told Style.com’s Nicole Phelps backstage. “Here, I wanted to work with asymmetry, cutting more fluidly.” What better way to understand Wang’s “fluid” vision than watching it float down the runway? See the nautical milestone collection in motion here, exclusively on Style.com.

Céline Looks East

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CelineFollowing in the footsteps of such luxury houses as Balenciaga, Burberry, Michael Kors, Dior Homme, and more, Céline is heading east. WWD reports today that the French house, helmed by Phoebe Philo, counts China as one of its top five most important markets, and to celebrate, will hold a runway show and exhibition in Beijing on Thursday. Céline’s popularity is just another indicator of the shift in China’s aesthetic tastes. Formerly, the luxury market there was all about status, logos, labels, and flash (i.e., if you were wearing Vuitton, you’d want everyone and their mother to know it). As the market—and its heavy-hitting consumers—evolves, subtler (but no less luxurious) brands like Balenciaga and Céline are becoming more appealing. Interesting, considering as China’s logomania dies down, the West’s obsession with label-baring wares is experiencing a major resurgence. Something for the Met to explore in its forthcoming exhibition, perhaps.

The Met to Focus on China for Next Major Fashion Exhibition

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Jay Z and Beyonce at the Met

Considering the fashion industry’s increasing investment in the East (see Dior Homme’s, Burberry’s, and Michael Kors’ recent shows in Shanghai, and Balenciaga’s presentation in Beijing), it’s no surprise that the Met is allegedly looking to China for its major Costume Institute exhibition next spring. According to WWD, details about the show are scarce, and a sponsor and participating designers have yet to be confirmed. The museum is also reportedly planning an additional show for the fall. We’ll bring you more info about both expos as we receive it, but in the meantime, we highly suggest you go check out Charles James: Beyond Fashion, which opened a whole twelve days ago.

Photo: Neilson Barnard/ Getty Images 

Louise Wilson, R.I.P.

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Louise WilsonProfessor Louise Wilson, the renowned Central Saint Martins Fashion MA course director who launched the careers of former students like Lee Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll, and more recently Simone Rocha and Craig Green, has died. She passed away in her sleep last night while visiting her sister in Scotland. She was 52.

A Saint Martins grad herself (she was lucky enough to have Ossie Clark as her tutor in the eighties), Wilson worked at the London-based college from 1992 through her death, taking a brief hiatus in the late nineties after being headhunted by Donna Karan. She was famed for her brash, often outrageous teaching tactics and outbursts, though her dedication to her students was never questioned—Wilson would consistently go above and beyond to help them grow, succeed, and earn placements at such houses as Lanvin and Balenciaga.

Wilson had been in poor health for some time due to breast cancer. She leaves behind her partner of more than thirty years and their son. Wilson was not only a pillar of the London fashion community—she was a veritable institution and inspiration for designers and fashion lovers worldwide. Many of today’s greatest talents owe her a huge debt of gratitude. She will be sorely missed.

Photos: Ian Gavan/ Getty Images