The highly anticipated exhibition, Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, is now open at the V&A Museum. It celebrates a hundred years since the opening of the brand’s first ever fashion house as well as its lasting influence on today’s style.
The presentation is divided by three themes; front of house, workrooms and legacy. On display are a mixture of apparel, sketches, photography and videos. There are also x-rays which interestingly illustrate the internal compositions of what was once considered radical clothing given their avant-garde construction – The sack dress, tunic, baby doll dress and shift dress all have Cristóbal Balenciaga at their origin. The brand’s founder was experimental. He was known for playing with proportion and volume, often creating new shapes which de-emphasised the waist in contrast to the traditional hourglass silhouette that had historically dominated a woman’s wardrobe.
His innovative approach to fashion earned him great respect and admiration from his peers. Coco Chanel described Balenciaga as the “Master of haute couture”. Hubert de Givenchy praisingly said, “I don’t think even the Bible has taught me as much as Balenciaga”. Today his impact extends beyond his contemporaries (which also included Christian Dior). In fact, it would be no over-statement to say Balenciaga still drives generations of designers to do something different, alike.