Since the renowned Spanish couturier created his first fashion collection, it was Balenciaga’s time-honoured tradition to create fine quality designs that inspired, endured and were relished by his customers. This year, two museums have hosted exhibitions celebrating the designer – Musee Bourdelle in Paris, www.eyestylist.com/balenciaga – and currently at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. Top image: The Balloon hem silk taffeta evening dress Cristobal Balenciaga Paris 1954 Victoria and Albert Museum London
Diana Vreeland, the iconic editor of American Vogue in the 1960’s and early 70’s proclaimed: “For twenty years, Balenciaga was the prophet of nearly every major change in silhouette.” Christian Dior pronounced: “Haute couture is like an orchestra whose conductor is Balenciaga.”
The designs are characterised by their sculptural quality, deft manipulation of textiles, and dynamic use of colours and textures. Inspiration derived from many sources: his own Spanish heritage; influences from 19th century dress; and the Japanese kimono.
The V&A exhibition showcases over one hundred garments and hats by Balenciaga, his pupils, and contemporary designers inspired by his innovation. Jacqueline Kennedy; Pauline de Rothschild; Gloria Guinness; Greta Garbo; and Mona von Bismarck; were among his notable clients in the 1950’s and 60’s. To view his beautifully tailored suits and exquisite evening dresses is to witness a master class in couture art. Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion is sponsored by American Express at the V&A, and continues until 18th February 2018. www.vam.ac.uk JG