V&A

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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Place to Visit- Victoria & Albert Museum’s ‘Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014’

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A couple of weeks ago I went out with my brothers to Victoria & Albert Museum. We went to see the Museum’s exhibition ‘Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014’. The exhibition started from 5th April 2014 and will continue to 27th July 2014.

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The exhibition explores designs after the second world war to the present day. The clothes on display were breathtaking and just seeing the craftsmanship that goes into designing clothes is extraordinary. We also learned what the ‘Made in Italy’ brand means to designers, creative directors, artisans and writers. Franca Sozzani (editor-in chief of Vogue Italia) defined Italian fashion and ‘Made in Italy’ as quality, creativity, glamour, richness and unnoticeable luxury. Additionally, what was fascinating to see was the business aspect of the Italian fashion industry and Angela Missoni of the Italian fashion house Missoni commenting on the lack of support from the Italian government.

I thought Fausto Puglisi’s commentary on Italian fashion was very interesting:

I trust so much in Italian art and craft. That is something I like to do. I can never accept to do something out of Italy. I believe so much in sacrifice in fashion. Rome wasn’t built in a day and that’s for me the same thing. I mean a dress is not built in a day. A dress needs to be fitted, a dress needs to be sewed, a dress needs to be amazing. And if we think about the big names in fashion we think about sacrifice. Sacrifice means that fashion is your obsession and fashion is the only girlfriend and boyfriend you can have in life. Fashion is the only obsession, there is nothing else than fashion.

Francesco Cianferoni, Gucci Artisan:

On average a modeller has more than 20 years of experience. A prototype artisan, more than 10 years. I personally have done this job for 37 years. Obviously, our values are tradition, “Made in Italy” and quality. These are, of course, constantly challenged by innovation, which we must confront every day to have a young product that keeps up with the times.

Of course, during the making process the bags are assembled by hand, sewn with sewing machines, etc., but there is always a large human component – that is what determines the expected final result. We are talking about productions that were made in the 1960s and 1950s, and are still made today in the same manner and using the same tools. We draw a lot out of our historical archive.

We work with living materials. Leather changes according to tanning, dyeing… so many factors. The product always has to be followed from beginning to end, as every product is unique; each piece of leather is different from another. So it is not an assembly-line job, but a job requiring concentration, analysis and passion.

It made me appreciate fashion even more than I already do. The passion that goes into creating high fashion pieces is clearly visible in the exhibition. I am happy that I have brothers that equally love fashion as I do, we enjoyed ourselves so much (fashion geeks ha).

There is a book with the history of The glamour of Italian Fashion that you can buy from V&A’s gift shop. I can’t wait to read it!

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Sadly, I could not take pictures of the exhibition. They were really strict on photography-sad times. You all need to see the beautiful clothing in the exhibition. It is only £8 for students. I want to go again!

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Go check it out!

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