12 posts tagged "Cristobal Balenciaga"
Behind any great designer stand his influences. Behind Cristóbal Balenciaga stands a collection of clothing spanning 300 years. The new exhibition Cristóbal Balenciaga, Collector of Fashion, opening today at Paris’ Musée Galliera, takes a look at the great creator through the lens of his collection.
“The items from Cristóbal Balenciaga may be seen as poetic inventory covering three centuries, from the seventeenth to the beginning of the twentieth, and basically two countries, Spain and France,” says Galliera director Olivier Saillard, who curated the show. “The oldest pieces are certainly a pair of French bead-embroidered shoes from 1730, the latest clothes the Spanish folkloric ornaments from the 1910′s. It is a mix of Parisian fashion and Spanish traditional garments or sometimes unusual objects like head ornaments for donkeys.” It’s as notable for what it doesn’t include as for what it does: in this grouping, no pieces from the famous couturiers who were Balenciaga’s contemporaries and predecessors, but “less important labels, nowadays forgotten though interesting to his eyes.”
The exhibit juxtaposes more than 70 costumes and pieces of clothing with Balenciaga haute couture from 1937 to 1968, some from the museum’s own collection, some on loan from Maison Balenciaga, which is supporting the show along with its parent company PPR. The comparison, says Saillard, is illuminating. “The themes in his collection are quite constitutive of his style,” the curator explains. “Black color, especially for lace and embroidery; the shapes of the nineteenth-century garments; historicism in general; the extremely vigorous creativity of Spanish folk art in terms of shapes and colors. [It is] a sort of miscellaneous jigsaw on which he built his modernity.”
“This exhibition may be an invitation to discover, or more precisely imagine, how a fashion designer might build a collection,” he goes on. “Perhaps [it's] evidence a couture collection doesn’t come out of nowhere, that the own culture and history of a creator is always present in his work.”
Cristóbal Balenciaga, Collector of Fashion opens today at Galliera’s temporary space Les Docks, 34 quai d’Austerlitz, Paris, 01-76-77-25-30.
Pictured: An exhibition display (top). Pieces from Balenciaga’s collection: Traditional Andalucian men’s ballet costume in wool with silk passementerie, circa 1850-1900; wool, silk, and tulle cape, circa 1895 (middle). Pieces from Balenciaga Haute Couture collections: Evening look from Spring 1947; Evening look from Fall 1951 (bottom).
Among the designers of the twentieth century, Cristobal Balenciaga is just about peerless. His friend Coco Chanel called him “the only couturier”; when he passed away in 1972, at the age of 77, Women’s Wear Daily declared, “The king is dead.”
His work and legacy are now the subject of a new show at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute in New York. (The Queen herself, as well as Oscar de la Renta, who conceived the exhibition, will even be on hand tonight to toast it.) Curated by Hamish Bowles, Balenciaga: Spanish Master plays up not only the master’s Parisian chic but also the influence of his native Spain, with references to bull fighters, the Basque, and the Catholic Church appearing throughout his work. (Given the circumstances, you might be inclined to forgive the light flamenco music playing in the background.) Balenciaga fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War, but the inspiration he drew from it remained with him for the rest of his life.
The show includes more than 70 dresses and accessories, sourced all over the world, from the Balenciaga archives in Paris to private owners to academic collections. Beginning in the thirties—a dramatic silk Infanta evening dress from 1939 is a standout—the show moves through the sixties, the height of his technical mastery, evident in a simple black silk crepe dress and gazar Chou head wrap from 1967. It’s a must-see reminder to the house’s legions of contemporary fans that, yes, there was life before the Motorcycle bag.
Balenciaga: Spanish Master runs November 19 to February 19, 2011, at Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, 684 Park Ave., NYC, (212) 628-0420, www.queensofiasi.org.
In the annals of fashion history, certain countries (France, Italy, England, the U.S.) get their fair share of credit, and deservedly so. But the contributions of Spain are lesser known, even though the work of Spanish designers has been some of the most influential in history—think of Cristobal Balenciaga or the Lanvin couturier Antonio del Castillo. The new Geografía de la Moda Española gives them and their countrymen their due. Edited by Modesto Lomba, president of the Spanish Fashion Designers’ Association, and with a preface by Style.com’s Candy Pratts Price, the book pays tribute to the breadth of Spanish design and the ingenuity of Spanish designers, from the well enshrined (Mariano Fortuny) to the rising international stars (like Davidelfin’s David Delfín, or Juanjo Oliva, whose designs are pictured above). Style.com spoke to Lomba about the history and legacy of Iberian design.
Are there signatures of Spanish fashion?
Spanish designers have been using traditional elements as inspirations—the whole image of the torero, the bullfighter, or the folk elements of the region. But so have some international designers. Spanish fashion has a lot of history to support it, but fashion today is global. So Spanish fashion is influenced not only by its own history but also by other modern designers throughout the world. To go out of Spain is also important, but to have that basis of Spanish history, and the roots of Spanish design, makes it easier to be truly international.
The book is called Geografía de la Moda Española—The Geography of Spanish Fashion. Are there significant regional differences throughout Spain, in terms of style?
Spain is very diverse. If you go, for example, to the south, designs are more ornamented; in the north, they are much simpler. That’s one of the reasons why Balenciaga favored such clean, linear design—it was, in part, because of where in Spain he was. Right now, the runway in Cibeles, in Madrid, that’s the one that represents the whole aesthetic of Spain. The runway in Barcelona is much more regional; it’s representing Cataluña. Right now, if, for example, a journalist wants to know what’s going on, it would be Madrid, and not Barcelona.
Are there areas where Spanish design is ahead of its international counterparts?
One of the things that might differentiate Spanish fashion from other leading countries is that, if you take somewhere like Italy, they’re focusing more on the big corporations and the big fashion brands. Spain is focusing more on the young talent. That support allows them to be more creative, really to explode their own creativity.