How Balenciaga Shaped Fashion

Cristóbal Balenciaga’s craftmanship, legacy and impact on the fashion world until this day is celebrated in a temporary exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which will leave you swooning over the designer’s work and projects through the years.

The ground floor is dedicated to Balenciaga’s craftsmanship, his workrooms and it explores the experience of being one of his clients, with testimonies from various wealthy women who swore by his designs. The exhibition follows a chronological order, emphasizing Balenciaga’s Spanish roots (with dresses inspired by fabrics from northern Spain, gowns associated with bullfighting and flamenco dresses) and the reflection of his Catholicism in his designs. However, Shaping Fashion focuses on this designer’s last decades, a period in which he released a series of controversial, yet innovative, designs – the baby doll dress and the unsexy sack.

Balenciaga experimented with form, fabric and the human body as an abstract object, and that is something that can be seen in this exhibition, on designs like the famous Envelope Dress.

This designer is called by many contemporaries The Master, a nickname that is brought to life through this perfectly put together exhibition. As you can observe in Shaping Fashion, it was Balenciaga’s training that set him apart and made him truly a master of haute couture. Unlike most fashion designers, Balenciaga began with the fabrics and designed around them – “It is the fabric that decides”. If you are someone who admires this designer’s work, you’re in for a real treat, with the display of some of his technical drawings, sketches, fabric swatches, reference photos and historical pieces, such as the 1961 green evening dress that opens the exhibition.

The famous 1961 green dress that opens the exhibiton. Photo by the New York Times

In order to replicate some of Balenciaga’s work and show his intricate designs and chosen patterns, the V&A joined hands with students from the London College of Fashion, and artist Nick Veasey produced X-rays to look at how his designs were constructed and to see the details that are not visible to the naked eye.

The details of the design of Balenciaga’s evening dresses

The upper floor looks at Balenciaga’s legacy and his impact on later generations of fashion designers, which is still interesting, but you’ll notice that the main focus of the exhibition and the place where you’ll want to spend your time is the ground floor, admiring the Master’s evening gowns and simple but structured dresses. Nevertheless, Balenciaga influenced every Fashion House – see the examples of Yohji Yamamoto and Calvin Klein in the 80’s and 90’s, and Phoebe Philo, J.W. Anderson and Rick Owens today. The exhibition isn’t associated with today’s Balenciaga brand, which was revamped in the 1990’s, but highlights the similarities between one of Cristóbal’s 1951 designs and a lady suit elaborated by Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga in 2016.

Similarities between Cristóbal Balenciaga and Demna Gvasalia

 

“Haute couture is like an orchestra whose conductor is Balenciaga”, as Christian Dior said, is the statement that perfectly sums this exhibition up. Allow yourself to dive into his impressive and innovative work, learn more about the Master himself and see how his influence was felt worldwide in the fashion industry in this outstanding exhibition curated by Cassie Davies-Strodder.

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion

  • On now until Sunday, 18 February 2018
  • Daily: 10:00 – 17:30 (last entry 16:15)
  • Friday: 10:00 – 21:30 (last entry 20:15)
  • Room 40 of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London
  • £12.00

Clinic //2: the dark side of technology

Organised by Vitamin London, a digital shop based in Central London, in association with the London Design Festival 2017, Clinic //2 is a unique exhibition meant to represent the impact of technology in our reality and the darkest side of the digital world.

It’s an immersive exhibition purposely created for the audience to reflect on the influence that the development of all sorts of technology and networks have had on our day-to-day lives, upbringing and relationships. According to Jacob Beckett, founder and creative director of the Multivitamin Group, “Clinic //2 unveils unique artworks and immersive installations demonstrating the bridging of technology and reality”.

Featuring the works of artists such as Jasmine Pradissitto and Mandy Hreus, Clinic //2 manages to attract the audience’s attention with powerful and meaningful pieces that stand out due to their originality. In addition to that, the dark lighted exhibition provides a virtual reality experience that allows people to think about the evolution of technology and how it has affected our personality and emotions – “U store data but do u store love?”.

The exhibition is open from the 20th until the 24th of September from 11am until 6pm on the 3rd floor of the Oxo Tower Wharf, in London.