Balenciaga

Balenciaga, Balenciaga, Balenciaga

What does 2 Chainz and Molly Goddard have in common? An appreciation for all things Balenciaga. From music to fashion there is a deep respect and admiration for one of the most influential and important designers of the century, “the designer’s designer”, Cristobal Balenciaga.

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I recently went to the “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” exhibition at Victoria & Albert Museum, showcasing over hundred couture pieces created by the mastermind himself. The exhibition also displayed his influence on fashion, from his protégées to contemporary fashion designers.

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Cristobal Balenciaga was born in Getaria, Gipuzoka (a Basque province) in Spain on January 21 1985. His mother was a seamstress and he learned the trade by spending time with her whilst she worked. He became a tailor apprentice at the age of 12 and was sent to Madrid by his patron where he started his formal training as a tailor. Balenciaga is celebrated as one of the very few designers who who not only designed but used his hands to cut and sew. Referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior, and the ‘King of Fashion’ his talent is treasured still today. His skills gave me an edge over other designers, making him popular with the ‘it crowd’ of his time. He was famous for his structural designs and reshaping the women’s silhouette in the 50s (to the point many dresses in the 50s were dilutions of his designs).

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Balenciaga built his career first in Spain, by opening a boutique in Madrid and then the fashionable seaside resort of San Sebastian. His designs were favoured by the Spanish elite, from the royal family to the Spanish aristocracy. After the Spanish civil war, Balenciaga decided to move his business to Paris, the fashion capital of the world. In August 1937 he put on his first runway show at his Avenue George Atelier, showing a collection heavily influenced by the Spanish Renaissance. Balenciaga incorporated influences from the Catholic church and from periods in European history to his designs.

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The exhibition was split into two sections, one looks at his garments and the second section which is separated by stairs shows the impact he has had on contemporary fashion designers.

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One thing I have noticed about Balenciaga’s work was how timeless his pieces are. You could totally have rocked his clothes made from the 40s, 50s, 60s and wear it today (even in 50 years it will still be wearable). The way he was able to capture all elements of femininity, elegance, grace and at the same time he was experimental and innovative.

This has gone on to influence many designers which is displayed in the second phase of the exhibition.

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I would definitely recommend everyone to go and see the exhibition. It completely blew my mind how every garment Balenciaga created had an extensive thought process. His artistry is flawless and my admiration for him has grown even more after going to the exhibition. If you only look at his protégées, who were under his wing, he deservedly owns the title of ‘Master of Couture’ (and no one yet has beat him in my opinion). Oscar de la Renta, Andre Courreges, Emaunel Ungaro and Hubert De Givenchy-were all his protégées- went on to build successful couture houses this therefore highlighting the greatness of Cristobal Balenciaga.

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For more information, please see the V&A Website here: Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at the V&A

Enjoy some more pictures that I took of the exhibition below:

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Balenciaga files lawsuit against Steve Madden

Balenciaga is suing Steven Madden with a trademark lawsuit. The Paris based design house, helmed by Alexander Wang, filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Manhattan accusing accessories designer Steven Madden of copying its famous motorcycle bag. Balenciaga said that Steven Madden has made a “studied copy” of the bag. Balenciaga argues Steven Madden’s Btalia bag which is being sold for $88, resembles the Motorcycle bag.

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The French design house which is owned by parent company Kering has claimed that Steven Madden is manufacturing a cheaper version of their famous Motorcycle bag. This according to Balenciaga has been specifically done to confuse consumers. The company claims that Steven Madden has infringed a trade dress regulation that the Parisian house applied for in 2007. A trade dress regulation is a type of trademark protection. This is a visual kind of trademark where the appearance of the product is looked at.  Trade dress infringement issues arise when a party feels that a copy could result in consumer confusion. The trade dress which was registered by Balenciaga covers the front design of Motorcycle bag and its lookalikes such as Twiggy, Velo, Papier and City (see picture above).

The registration protects: “The flat pouch with a zippered rectangular closure, a zipper pull consisting of a strip centrally-knotted and hanging in two equal lengths, and a semi-elliptical patch outfitted with two raised studs in each corner; and two identical patches in an elongated pentagonal shape, featuring an elongated hexagonal patch outfitted with a buckle and two raised studs”.

The Motorcycle bag has been a celebrity favourite seen on the likes of Kim Kardashian, Mary-Kate Olsen and Paris Hilton. It became so popular that there were many counterfeits on the market. As a result of this, Balenciaga decided to register a US trade dress to protect the design. The bag was created by Nicholas Ghesquiere who was at Balenciaga from 1997 and in 2012 Alexander Wang became his successor.

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Balenciaga has asked the court for an injunction to prevent Steven Madden producing the “studied copy” of its Motorcycle bag. The French label is also seeking monetary damages and lost profits. Balenciaga’s complaint states: “Defendant’s wholesale copying of Balenciaga’s designs is likely to deceive consumers into believing that the infringing [handbag] is associated with or authorized by Balenciaga when it is, in fact, not.” In addition, Balenciaga claims not only is there customer confusion but it is also hurting the company’s goodwill, reputation and sales.

This is not the first time Balenciaga has filed a lawsuit against the American designer, Steve Madden. If you remember, in 2007 the company filed a complaint against Steven Madden for “intentionally copying” its LEGO high heel from its Autumn/Winter 2007 Collection.

Do you think Steve Madden’s Btalia copied Balenciaga’s Motorcycle bag? Or do you think they are just similar?

 

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