“Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is a veritable rhapsody.
A rapturous round of applause to the unmitigated guile and talent of a supremely-gifted tailor and cutting-edge innovator.
Laid out over two amazing floors of crystal-clear creativity, a culmination of past, present and future clauses of the highest quality design are seamlessly-rendered, through quintessential craftsmanship and ground-breaking technology, as only the V&A can do!
From the tenderest beginnings of a Cristobal, who is born in País Vasco, Spain, raised against the backdrop of a consummately-skilled dressmaking Mother and instructed under the tutelage of only the very best in their respective fields of design, to the Master Couturier, in his own right, it is an utter delight to quick-unpick and unpack the realm of raiment which would see him thrust into the fashion foreground and remain there.
Breathless, at every turn, am I. Inspirational in every era of his existence, was he.
Moreover, this exhibition is a power ballad to sartorial intent…
…the curation process, of which, began in 2015 and reaches its maturation in an assemblage which extends beyond the ‘comprehensive’, but is deep-dyed in its sensitive depiction of a uniquely imaginative and inventive world.
From the lab-coat efficiency of pattern-cutting precision (which we might now call ‘minimalist’), to the command of experimental flights-of-fancy (which we might now call avant-garde), the genius of Balenciaga is honoured, with the finely-tuned accuracy of the Maestro, himself. It is effortless glamour-on-demand!
Rather fitting, then, that the ground-level should be sprinkled with the glitter of socialites and movie-star patrons, such as Anne Bullitt Biddle, Elizabeth Parke Firestone and Ava Gardner.
…Toile-to-attire, the entire archival lay-out is akin to the ultimate ensemble…
Yet, not to be outdone by such levels of haute grandeur, the inclusion of C21st advancement is employed, with distinct aplomb. Not only do dress-making demonstrations adorn expansive HD screens, but, on ascending a staircase as grand as the pinpoint pick-ups of a couture wedding gown, they continue to be displayed upon the vast columns of the V&A, itself. Further revelations of the boning construction which lies beneath the gowns, are discovered through inspired collaborations between The London College of Fashion and X-Ray photographer, Nick Veasey, respectively. Each technique serving to enlighten the creative process in all of its methodical glory, acting like a hand-through-time in enlisting modernity to mirror and reflect the labour of love which it took to create, then, and disseminate Balenciaga’s originality, now.
Earnest testimonials from couturiers and contemporary designers throughout the timeline, signify pertinent reminders of the extraordinary profundity and reach of Balenciaga’s influence. As if his, own, dextrous fingers had extended through history into the gloves of their giftings, such stand-out creators as Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha, Josep Font and J.W. Anderson recall, not only, his pure innovative power, but the exact point of departure for its impact in their own lives, let alone practice… although, it soon becomes clear-cut, that the two are, most definitely, one-in-the-same…
… which brings a romantic reciprocity to the story… for the glorious Balenciaga blueprint is bold and beautiful…the perfect parure… an unmissable suite of style, woven into every echelon of fashion finery, from menswear to womenswear… and echoing through functionality, from sportswear to eveningwear, with architectural sensibility.
All-encompassing proof, if proof were necessary, to “[re-assert] the fact that he’s not just shoes and handbags, he’s so much more”*…
…and always will be.
©A_F_R_O_W2018-2019. All Rights Reserved.
Quotation Credit: * Cassie Davies-Strodder (Curator)