The Ba­len­ci­aga ef­fect

The Ba­len­ci­aga: Shap­ing Fash­ion ex­hi­bi­tion pro­vides an in­ti­mate look at the revered cou­turier’s mas­ter­pieces

ELLE (Malaysia) - - AGENDA -

The story of Ba­len­ci­aga be­gan with a Span­ish cou­turier with an eye for per­fec­tion and an aver­sion to self-pro­mo­tion, Cristóbal Ba­len­ci­aga. He al­lowed noth­ing to de­tract from the clothes, not even his own pres­ence as their de­signer, grant­ing only one full in­ter­view in his life­time. At pre­sen­ta­tions, Ba­len­ci­aga ob­served his au­di­ence of ac­tresses (in­clud­ing Au­drey Hep­burn and Mar­lene Di­et­rich) roy­als, ed­i­tors and buy­ers from be­hind cur­tains.

Tai­lor­ing ran in Ba­len­ci­aga’s blood. His mother was a seam­stress and his child­hood was spent by her side. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing for­mal train­ing in Madrid, he sharp­ened his skills by ap­pren­tic­ing at some of San Se­bastián’s finest tai­lors. He opened his first bou­tique, C. Ba­len­ci­aga, in 1917, then moved to Paris in 1936 when the Span­ish Civil War broke out.

Coco Chanel called him “a cou­turier in the truest sense of the word”, as Ba­len­ci­aga was able to drape, cut and fit his own toiles. If Chanel shone a light on jer­seys and Chris­tian Dior gave us the hour­glass New Look, Ba­len­ci­aga was the in­no­va­tor of vo­lu­mi­nous sil­hou­ettes and baby doll dresses. He favoured heav­ier tex­tiles, which he turned into gowns with raised waists that en­cour­aged move­ment and looks that re­flected his Span­ish her­itage, such as a shock­ing pink fla­menco-style dress with a high­low hem­line. Celebri­ties clam­oured to be out­fit­ted in Ba­len­ci­aga, as they still do to­day. Ba­len­ci­aga: Shap­ing Fash­ion is the first ex­hi­bi­tion in the UK to ex­plore the de­signer’s in­flu­ence on mod­ern fash­ion. Along­side pieces by Ba­len­ci­aga him­self are de­signs by his con­tem­po­raries: for­mer ap­pren­tices An­dré Cour­règes and Emanuel Un­garo, as well as present-day de­sign­ers Phoebe Philo and Ba­len­ci­aga’s cur­rent cre­ative di­rec­tor Demna Gvasalia, whose A/W ’17 col­lec­tion heav­ily ref­er­enced the clas­sic vo­lu­mi­nous sil­hou­ette. Don’t miss the X-ray im­ages of Ba­len­ci­aga’s gar­ments, cre­ated by artist Nick Veasey, the first of their kind at the V&A Mu­seum.

‘Ba­len­ci­aga: Shap­ing Fash­ion’ now un­til Fe­bru­ary 18, 2018, Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum, Lon­don. vam.ac.uk/ba­len­ci­aga

Lisa Fon­ssagrives-Penn wear­ing coat by Cristóbal Ba­len­ci­aga, pho­tographed by Irv­ing Penn

Ba­len­ci­aga A/W ’17

Elise Daniels with street per­form­ers, suit by Ba­len­ci­aga, pho­tographed by Richard Ave­don, 1948

Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Ba­len­ci­aga, Café Deux Magots, Paris 1955, pho­tographed by Richard Ave­don

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