Exhibition in London, UK – Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion makes its way to the Victoria and Albert Museum

Dive into the history of dress-making with this tribute exhibition to Balenciaga

May 23, 2017 | By AFP Relaxnews

Cristobal Balenciaga at work, Paris 1968. © AFP

A new retrospective centering on the pinnacle of Cristóbal Balenciaga‘s remarkable haute couture career, opens May 27 at the UK’s leading museum of Art and Design— the Victoria and Albert Museum. Featuring examples of Balenciaga’s distinct dress shapes through the years, the exhibition is a real treat for fashion and dress-making enthusiasts alike. Titled ‘Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion’, the show unveils 100 garments and 20 hats, many of which are going on display for the first time.

Sketches, patterns, photographs, fabric samples and catwalk footage revealing Balenciaga’s uncompromising creativity cast visitors back in time to the 1950s and 1960s, when the master of couture was at the height of his creative career. A number of Balenciaga‘s timeless shapes, including the tunic, the sack, ‘baby doll’ and shift dress were born during this golden age of couture.

Show highlights include ensembles made by Balenciaga for Hollywood actress Ava Gardner, dresses and hats belonging to socialite and 1960s fashion icon Gloria Guinness, and pieces worn by one of the world’s wealthiest women, Mona von Bismarck, who commissioned everything from ballgowns to gardening shorts from the couturier.

For the first time the V&A has used x-ray technology to take a “forensic look” at the hidden details behind Cristóbal Balenciaga’s tailoring.

These x-rays, made with x-ray artist Nick Veasey, show structures invisible to the naked eye, including dress weights strategically placed to determine the exact hang of the skirt in one of Balenciaga‘s most minimal designs, and boning in dress bodices, dispelling the myth that he did not use such structures.

Baby Doll cocktail dress in crêpe de chine, lace and satin, Cristobal Balenciaga, 1958. © AFP

For chief curator Cassie Davies-Strodder, the work that is on display by those who trained with Balenciaga, and more recent garments by Molly Goddard, Demna Gvasalia and J.W. Anderson—who in the curator’s opinion clearly reflect the “legacy of his vision today.”

The V&A is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of dress in the world, and regularly hosts cocktail parties, book launches and gallery events, which never fail to attract a smattering of London’s glitterati.

Meanwhile, across the Channel in Paris, “L’Oeuvre au Noir” exhibition explores Balenciaga’s penchant for black and his Spanish childhood— is currently running at the Musée Bourdelle until July 16.

Tickets are priced at £12 (concessions available). V&A Members go free. Advance booking online is advised.

For more information, do visit VAM.

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