Cristobal Balenciaga at the Musee Galliera
Though Cristobal Balenciaga has been gone for nearly 40 years, his contribution to the world of fashion and Balenciaga live on as one of the industries top houses. The Spanish couturier’s impact as a designer shaped the fashion in the 20th century and it seems only fitting the fans, media and the public at large be treated to a rare opportunity to see his collective works on display at the first ever display of his personal archives.The exhibit will contain the vast collection of mixed media left to the Musee Galliera (The museum for Fashion in Paris) in 1979, that has, tragically, since it’s donation never seen the light of day. The majority of the collection dates back to the 19th century.
Galliera director Olivier Saillard’s vision for the Balenciaga project centred around the archive and assembling the collection around the source of the works inspiration. Many of the pieces will be displayed laying flat to mimic the feel of how they have been stored instilling a sense of posterity. Saillard commented on the production by saying:
“It’s very random, spontaneous — put together over the course of a lifetime, travelling round the world, presents from friends. He wasn’t a specialised collector,”
It gives a glimpse into the creative processes of a man who straddled the 19th and 20th centuries, a perfectionist with a reputation for being taciturn, enigmatic and often too radical for his contemporaries, and profoundly influenced by Spanish popular culture.
Saillard went to say: “Chanel hailed him as the only couturier other than herself to have mastered all the techniques from cutting cloth to sewing and he continues to influence fashion today, especially in the architecture and volume of clothes…” “He invented, at least in part, the vocabulary of 20th century fashion, yet the paradox is he was very nourished by the epoch before.”
Some background on Balenciaga:
Born in 1895 in the Spanish Basque country to a fairly affluent family. From a young are he was obsessed with silhouettes and worked furiously to create the perfect form to allow freedom in movement for women in a time where restrictive, oppressing garments were the status quo.
According the The Musee Galliera press release, the exhibition allows the viewer to compare Balenciaga’s sculptural cocktail frocks with their bolero or cape tops from his Haute Couture lines in the 1950s with their historic counterparts from 100 years before.The collection is also testament to Balenciaga’s passion for Spanish regional costumes, from bullfighters to flamenco dancers, from which he borrowed details for his own designs.
“His evening dresses were hybrids,” said Saillard. The grand gowns had rustic touches, while the rich colours of folk costume — seen, for example, in velvet bands used to decorate balconies for religious processions — also inspired Balenciaga’s palette.
The exhibition runs until October 7 at Les Docks, a new arts and design complex on the Quai d’Austerlitz by the Seine. Visit the official website at www.paris.docks-en-seine.fr
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