October 5, 2022

Cristobal Balenciaga: a high fashion course

A perfectionist
Cristobal Balenciaga

Balenciaga constantly seeking perfection, he goes up and up his bosses, sews and unravels his dresses constantly in order to obtain a pure and perfect line. The Spanish war pushed him to France. He sets up his fashion house at 10 Avenue George V in 1937. He does not blend into Parisian life although Givenchy, Dior or Coco Chanel befriend him.





A rich work

Balenciaga 1962
Virtuoso of couture, respected by his peers for his expertise and professionalism, Balenciaga dedicated his life to making clothes for (rich) women while he was not sensitive to their charm. Coco Chanel, always very critical of the works of her peers, will say about her famous models "without collar": "they let appear the wrinkled necks of her clients".
Balenciaga works on shades of black, his style is rather austere. However, his Spanish origins greatly influence his work, especially for dresses evening or cocktails that it does not fail to adorn embroidery or accessorize with boleros with irreproachable cuts.
But his personal touch, his "dada", is draping, he will constantly evolve or place on any type of parts and fabrics, throughout his career.

His masterpieces
Some models praised by the press or worn by a popular craze are the notoriety of a designer. For Balenciaga, the 50s will be for him the advent of the consecration thanks to three pieces:
The semi-fitted tailor (1952): bowed front and wave behind, a small revolution in styling.
The dress tunic (1955): a straight line that barely touches the waist.
The dress Baby Doll (1958): a childish style all in lace, a 100% Hispanic inspiration.

The end of the Balenciaga fashion house 
In 1968, Cristóbal, 73, decided to retire. He fulfilled his dream of "reducing the garment to the essential: a unique seam". He does not want, like Pierre Cardin, "prostitute with the ready-to-wear" and prefers to close his company.
The brand continues to exist in the world, the Avenue George V store offers customers scarves and some reissues of dresses.
In 1997 Nicolas Ghesquière is appointed artistic director of the House Balenciaga, his mission is to create collections in the spirit Balenciaga. This young designer is diligently studying the master's archives before producing his collection: a success ...

Balenciaga Paris, the expo

Dress of Bride 1965
The collections are collected by era and style (tailors, dresses evening, theater costumes ...). This chronological presentation allows the visitor to understand the work of the creator as well as the choice of materials through the significant periods of the twentieth century.
On the lower floor, stop for a moment in front of the television screens, looping parades of the time as well as the latest ones.
The exhibition ends with the collections of Nicolas Ghesquière. We notice at the first glance that this young stylist is also a perfectionism, his jackets are adjusted, the colors and prints agree irreproachably. The mind Balenciaga is there.
Our opinion
A beautiful retrospective that magnificently illustrates the work of Cristobal Balenciaga as well as the evolution of women's fashion over nearly a century.
However, if you are not a stylist or trainer in the field of haute couture, we recommend you to be accompanied by a speaker.

Learning from 'The Master': Balenciaga Revealed (October 2022)