Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at V&A

Balenciaga

A couple of weeks ago I made it to the Victoria and Albert Museum, perhaps one of the most wonderful art institutions in the county, to enter an entirely different dimension with the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition.

Shit, I can’t believe I have just produced a completely serious, grown up sentence- that’s what Sundays at home do to me! Anyway, I experienced the exhibition and the only reason I am producing a post about it is that you should do it too.

Balenciaga

To say ‘it’s epic’ would be an understatement, but then, what could we expect from the event featuring masterpieces of one of the most influential figures in contemporary fashion?!

Dior called him ‘the master of us all’, Givenchy claimed: ’I don’t think even the Bible has taught me as much as Balenciaga’, Diana Vreeland named him as a ‘prophet of nearly every major change in silhouette’ and Chanel said Balenciaga was the only couturier ‘in the truest sense of this world’- if this doesn’t convince you to book the tickets, I don’t know what will!

Balenciaga

Cristóbal Balenciaga was born in a fishing village in the Basque Country in 1885 and was lucky to have a seamstress as a mother. Probably under her influence he started taking sewing lessons at the age of only 12 which truly is beyond my imagination. The knowledge of cutting, tailoring and dressmaking together with his exceptional designing skills set Balenciaga apart from other couturiers and led to opening his first fashion house in Spain when he was twenty flipping two! *sigh*

Balenciaga

The Civil War in Spain forced the master to move to France, which is where all the fairytale (aka huge international success) began.

His fashion house on 10 Avenue George V was one of the most luxurious and expensive couture houses in Paris, where Balenciaga worked with over 500 (!!!) cutters, seamstresses and fitters to prepare between 150 and 200 looks in each of his collections.

Balenciaga

He was a perfectionist, the master of cut and construction, famously giving his pieces abstract, architectural forms, happily violating the major rules of haute couture. If you look at his amazing garments, they often look more like wonderful sculptures than pieces of clothing and it’s what makes them absolutely mesmerising. Needless to say, stepping into Balenciaga’s world of shapes, cuts and colours is very much Alice in Wonderland kind of experience.

Balenciaga

By introducing looser fits, broader shoulders, 3/4 length sleeves and stand away collars as well as removing the waist, Balenciaga completely revolutionised the female silhouette.

Balenciaga’s creations were worn by royals and aristocrats; the wealthiest women in the world often put their own safety at risk to travel to Paris during WWII for each of 3 fittings required before getting a couture piece of their dreams.

Balenciaga

Those who couldn’t afford Balenciaga, were often buying from Eisa- a Spain-based sister label owned by the master. Labour and fabric costs in Spain were much lower, materials were sourced locally and there were Balenciaga’s extended family members employed in the company which all contributed to an overall price difference of even 50%- very tempting indeed!

Balenciaga

Another alternative was buying from high-end department stores like Harrods or Bloomingdales which were licensed to copy Balenciaga. Because there were no limitations in the amount of copies they could make, buying the licence was much more pricey than to buy the actual piece.

If Harrods was too far from home, you could always ask your local seamstress to make a copy for you too. The age, background or social status didn’t really matter- everyone wanted a piece of Balenciaga.

Balenciaga

Today we live in the whole new era where getting a catwalk-inspired piece costs us as much effort as one click on Zara’s website. The next morning a smiley courier, handling a familiar looking parcel wishes us a nice day and disappears leaving us with our statement pieces. Isn’t that great- all so simple, so quick, so affordable! Except, we all look the same.

Balenciaga

  • Tiffany Bailey

    What a fabulous post – so interesting to read the history of such an iconic Brand and I love that quote from Christian Dior. Fantastic pictures – I want those shoes! Seriously though what gorgeous colours, shapes and individual pieces. Love! 🖤

  • Brigette Collins

    I love these couture pieces! Balenciaga has always been a favorite of mine!

  • Itziar

    I loved your post! The pictures are amazing!

  • Itziar

    I love the pictures, such nice dresses!

  • AyanaOri

    Those dresses are beautiful and so classy

  • NerdyBook Life

    Those dresses are so pretty! I am a jeans and t-shirt girl but I can always appreciate a gorgeous dress!

    • To be honest same here, writing in in my Led Zeppelin tee 😉 Xx

  • Honestly, I’ve never heard of this museum but it looks so stunning! xx There are some absolutely beautiful pieces here! x
    Lots of love,
    Marina Rosie xx

  • Sonyo Estavillo

    I’ve never took a trip to a fashion museum before, it looks like a wealth of learning and note taking for those interested in fashion. Nice pictures, it looks like you had a lot of fun.

  • Amy Pawlukiewicz

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! The history is so interesting, too.

  • Anela Hrnic

    WOW! Impressive pieces of ART! Love them!

  • I loved the photos of the exhibition, thank you so much for sharing! I’ve never been to a fashion exhibition like this but would love to one day – especially from a classic house like Balenciaga. I love their bags but their clothes are real works of art! 🙂

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment! If you’re ever in London, you know where to go 😉 x

  • hellolovelyinc

    love Balenciaga! don’t love bustles though. thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • notthatboringaccountant

    i love the pieces in the gallery, and your pictures look amazing!

  • Pam Avoledo

    Fashion is much art as as painting, It takes skill and talent to be able to imagine fabric with patterns. Loved your take on it.

  • Luzél Opperman

    Wish I could strut my stuff in these clothes on the highstreet!

  • Aneeq Lon

    Love V&A museum. Some gorgeous pictures.

  • Britne

    Thanks for sharing!! There’s nothing like this museum around my city so this was great! And I never knew all the history behind Balenciaga. Very interesting read!

  • Carina Vardie

    The creations are incredible and it’s nice to learn about the history of the iconic brand. Love it!!!

    xo

  • Britne

    Very cool post! I didn’t know this much history about Balenciaga and we don’t have any museum like this where I live. Very cool to see and read!

  • Respectful Living

    Very interesting read. Nice job!

  • Tiffany Twisted

    I love that textured embellished gown! Beautiful pieces 🙂

  • Kay

    Loved this post so much. Great work <3

    xoxo

  • Annaleid

    Wauw such great dresses and shoes !! Love this post 🙂
    xoxo Annaleid

  • Beauty and the Ballroom

    Wow this looks like something I need to see. I’ve never been to the V&A. Great post xx

  • Jasmine

    I’ve never heard of this museum! Those pieces are stunning and now I want to visit for myself, lol.

  • Veronika Lipar

    I totally agree, V&a is a splendid institution. And thank you sharing a glimpse of this beautiful exposition.

    Veronika

  • The structure of these pieces!! What a talent!

  • neverwithoutnavy

    Fascinating! I had no idea this was going on! Great history ! Love your pictures and I want to GO!

  • Breana and Riley

    Loved this post! All of the pictures make me want go to visit the exhibit!

  • Breana and Riley

    I love this post! The pictures are amazing! It makes me want to go see the exhibit!

  • The Darksided Fashionista

    loved it!

  • Brenda Mueller

    These fashions are incredible. I love the pink coat in the first picture.

  • Brenda Mueller

    I love these! Great pictures and I really like the pink coat at the top.

  • LOVE this post, I’m going to the exhibition this weekend – now even more excited!! Rx

    • Have a great time! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Xx

  • yaswanth jaya kumar

    Very interesting read, the history piece was very delightful.

  • Gillian Kent

    Balenciaga’s work is so awesome. He constantly pushed the envelope of style and fabric use as well as embellishment. I love that Dior quote because, of course, he is an innovator too. Fabulous photos!

  • Mandi Em

    Those are gorgeous!!

  • Anna

    So cool to hear about such an iconic brand. The exhibition looks breathtaking.

  • Pip Tips

    I love everything to do with history, and your post has peeked my interest to visit this fabulous museum

  • These couture pieces are to die for! Truly works of art!

  • Great post, very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  • [ Smiles ] Thank you for fusing fashion with a bit of history!

  • Alison Rost

    Because of my husband, I’ve become a museum junkie! I’d so love to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum one day. All of the styles are so beautiful, but I have to admit I like the white dress with the pretty flowers (7th photo down). It looks soft and flowey .. something a woman would wear in the summer. x