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Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion


From 27th May 2017 to 18th February 2018, the V&A museum will become home to the iconic and renowned fashion house Balenciaga.  Exhibiting over 100 garments and 20 hats, many of which have not yet been seen on public display, this exhibition is set to explore everything from the power house’s front of house, workrooms and legacy and impact the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga has had on many others in the fashion industry.

“Haute couture is like an orchestra whose conductor is Balenciaga.  We other couturiers are the musicians and we follow the direction he gives.” – Christian Dior


Henri Cartier-Bresson – Cristóbal Balenciaga at work, Paris, 1968

Opening his first fashion house in San Sebastian, Spain, 100 years ago, Balenciaga has paved the way for Haute Couture designers and brands ever since.  Following the opening of the first fashion house, the brand relocated to Paris, twenty years later, giving it the status of a French Luxury Fashion House.

Focusing the designers career in the 1950’s and 60’s, Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion features three exhibition themes; Front Of House, The Workrooms and The Legacy.  Together these three areas tell a story and dig deep into the work of the founder.  Front of house explores the salons, salon shows, clients and first dresses whilst the workrooms exhibit crucial elements that have gone into the success of each dress; fabrics, embellishment, cut construction and innovation.  The legacy gives behind the scenes access and the influence that the founder and brand has had on many including Celine and J.W.Anderson and the shapes, craftsmanship and style of the brand. 


Mark Shaw – Model wearing Balenciaga orange coat as I. Magnin buyers inspect a dinner outfit in the background, Paris, 1954.

“Cristóbal Balenciaga was one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century.  The exhibition will show his lasting impact on fashion through the work of those who trained with him and through recent garments by designers including Molly Goddard, Demna Gvasalia and J.W.Anderson who reflect the legacy of his vision today…” says Cassie Davies-Strodder, V&A exhibition curator.

The exhibition delves further into the designs and mind of the founder using X-ray technology to gain a forensic insight into the highly detailed garments.  These images will show underlying structures and components of dresses, which usually who remain hidden from the consumer.  In addition, the V&A have partnered with London College of Fashion pattern cutting students to detail how patterns come together to create a finished Balenciaga dress.


X-Ray photograph of evening dress, silk taffeta, Christobal Balenciaga, Paris, 1955.  X-ray by Nick Veasey, 2016

Sketches, patterns, photographs, fabric samples and catwalk images will all accompany the garments on show at the V&A.  Whether you are passionate about the history of the fashion industry, have an underlying love for the work of Balenciaga or are a fashion student, this exhibition is not to be missed.

On the 1st February 2017, tickets for the exhibition will go on sale and it is recommended that you book in advance.

For further information,click here.

Image Credit Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion is at the V&A from 27 May 2017 – 18 February 2018 

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