Cristobal Balenciaga’s exquisite craftsmanship and pioneering use of fabrics revolutionised the female silhouette, setting the scene for modern design. His garments are characterised by their sculptural quality, deft manipulation of textiles and dramatic use of colour and texture. Revered by his contemporaries, including Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, he is referred to as ‘The Master’.
An exhibition organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Balenciaga: shaping fashion explores the work and legacy of this renowned couturier, one of the most innovative and influential fashion designers of the 20th century.
Highlights of this major international exhibition include garments crafted by Balenciaga from the 1950s and 1960s – arguably the most creative period of his career when he dressed some of the most renowned women of the time – through to pieces designed by protégés and contemporary designers working in the same innovative way today.
In addition, archive sketches, patterns, photographs, fabric samples and catwalk footage provide a unique insight into Balenciaga’s salons and workrooms. The results of new, forensic investigations into the garments – including a collaboration with x-ray artist Nick Veasey and a digital pattern making project with the London College of Fashion – reveal the hidden details and processes which make Balenciaga’s work so exceptional.
The exhibition features examples of Balenciaga’s revolutionary shapes – the tunic, sack, baby doll and shift dresses – all of which remain style staples today. Other 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.
Curated by Cassie Davies-Strodder, the exhibition also explores the lasting impact of Balenciaga, tracing his influence through the work of more than 30 fashion designers across the last 50 years.
“We are thrilled to bring this exhibition, exclusive to Australia, from London’s revered Victoria and Albert Museum, and to continue to showcase the work of some of the world’s most important designers at Bendigo Art Gallery,” said Gaye Harrington, Acting Director of Bendigo Art Gallery.
“The exhibition marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house in San Sebastian, and the 80th anniversary of the opening of his famous fashion house in Paris, so is a timely reminder of how influential and enduring Balenciaga’s work remains.”
Balenciaga: shaping fashion
Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo
Exhibition: 17 August – 10 November 2019
Entry fees apply
For more information, www.bendigoartgallery.com.au for details.
Image: Richard Avedon, Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux Magots, Paris