Thursday, 30 December 2010

fashion's Picasso

“Infanta” gown, 1939 photo © R.J. Horst, Wise Gallery, NYC
The impact of Spain's culture and history on the country's
legendary artists of the twentieth-century such as revered
Picasso, Dalì and Mirò also played a vital role in 
Cristóbal Balenciaga's vision shaping his original 
creative approach and work.
Hailed as the “fashion's Picasso” by Cecil Beaton, Balenciaga
was in fact one of the few couturiers using his own hands 
to draw, cut and sew the models showing sheer 
artistry in his unique masterworks.

Flamenco-inspired evening dress, 1951 photo © Henry Clarke/Vogue
This winter Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York is 
proudly hosting “Balenciaga: Spanish Master”, the very first 
exhibition devoted to the prominent dressmaker who, 
together with Coco Chanel, transformed the way women 
dressed altering the silhouette, broadening shoulders 
and totally redefining the waistline.

Evening dress with red stole, 1952 photo © Frances McLaughlin-Gill/Vogue
Conceived by Dominican-born stylist Oscar De La Renta
who himself began his career in fashion design working for
Balenciaga's Eisa branch company in Madrid, the exhibition
showcases more than seventy items of clothing and accessories
thanks to the unprecedented collaboration between the 
House of Balenciaga in Paris providing most of the 
garments and the American Spanish Institute.

Evening dress, 1967 photo © Balenciaga Archives, Paris
The curator is Hamish Bowles, Vogue's European Editor 
at Large, who in his teens made a fantastic bargain buying 
a Balenciaga 60's vintage dress on the cheap (the time 
in which the Spanish couturier was dressing Lady Pauline 
de Rothschild, countess Mona Bismark and the women 
of 'beau monde') is even the catalogue's author.

Balenciaga's baroque embroidered dresses, 1957 photo © Kenny Komer
Cream-colored gala dresses, photo © Kenny Komer
Real masterpieces on display, some of them exhibited 
for the first time, from the amazing silvery 1939's  “Infanta” 
gown to the sumptuously embroidered evening and wedding 
dresses of 1957 via the matador-inspired pink boleros of 
1946 or the flamenco-inspired black suits of 1951 and 1961.
Works of art and decorative arts from Spain are part of the 
exhibition supporting the curatorial claim to create a cogent 
vision of Spain's influence on its masterful designer.

Matador-inspired pink bolero, 1946 photo © Kenny Komer


  1. Dearest Elisabetta,

    Very informative designer backgrounds! When I studied Fashion in the 60s it was of course still very much Cristóbal Balenciaga and Oscar de la Renta's influences. Balenciaga was special indeed for drawing; cutting and sewing his designs himself! Having done it myself, I can only admire him for this!
    Wishing you a Happy New Year in good health and thanks for the many informative blogs that you've posted over 2010!!!


    Mariette's Back to Basics

  2. Oh how I would love to visit this glorious exhibition - it would be a dream come true:) Happy New Year lovely! xo