Like Balenciaga, he plays with proportions in his designs, in part a legacy of his work for Maison Martin Margiela, known for its oversize garments.
Demna Gvasalaia on the Balenciaga Exhibition.
The must-see fashion exhibition at the V&A, ‘Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion’, curates Cristóbal Balenciaga’s legacy that will live on beyond generations.
The mannequin on display was made for Vietnamese model Taiga who worked for Balenciaga in the 1950s and 60s. The exhibition reveals the intricate process of how the master couturier created beautiful shapes he was renowned for – Balenciaga conceived the first versions of his dresses on a stand like Taiga’s mannequin. There are short videos – only seconds long – on screen next to dresses exhibited demonstrating the actual technique.
EMBROIDERED TO ‘SHAPE’
The exhibition is carefully constructed to show how Balenciaga was the master mind behind creating shapes. For example, for an embroidered short dress at the exhibition, 8 pattern pieces arrived at the embroiderer’s workshop already measured with seam and hem allowances marked. This mark was to indicate up to where the embroidery should be done not to waste any needlework. The pattern would then be made into a dress to perfectly fit and ‘hug’ the wearer back at the studio.
The exhibition also includes a section of hats designed by Balenciaga and created with craftsmanship at the studio. Because the hats were the subject of counterfeit at the time due to its popular designs and high demand, the police had to sign Balenciaga’s design sketches to protect them for copyright infringement.
London Fashion Week Men’s Rory Parnell-Mooney’s take on Balenciaga’s semi-fit look where a loose fit is created at the front with a belt that feeds inside the hoodie, is on display side by side with Demna Gvasalia’s off sholulder stand away collared jacket. Both collections from Autumn/Winter 2016.
Balenciaga’s young protégé Givenchy followed his master in the precision of his work and the exhibition reveals the simple yet meticulously built form and design by Givenchy. The entire upper floor also exhibits the works of many other designers to follow suit from Oscar de la Renta, Emanuel Ungaro, Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Calvin Klein, Rick Owens, Phoebe Philo, JW Anderson, Erdem, Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard and more – an amazing archive of a generation of talented designers.
It’s not always that you will be able to see the actual ‘mini dress’ famously designed by Mary Quant in the prefect length to wear for her favourite car ‘Mini’ – the dress is also on display.