If you love fashion, you know that what the name Balenciaga represents, if you’re not into fashion you can at least recognize the brand even if you don’t know the history behind the legacy. All thanks to the brilliant vision and impeccable technical mastery of one man, Cristobal Balenciaga, who created an empire that to this day, it’s the epitome of Paris fashion…Paris by way of Spain that is.
Born in the fishing village of Guetaria in the Basque province of Guipúzcoa, Spain in the late nineteenth century, Balenciaga first fell in love with fashion as a tailor at the tender age of thirteen. His couture house, which opened in Paris in 1937 has since then become a symbol of high fashion recognized all over the world for many decades and for many more to come.
His inspiration all came from one place, his beloved Spain, as it is reflected by his works, which can only be described as the works of an artist, a master who understood fashion and style in ways that transcended any others of his time. Diana Vreeland said that Cristobal Balenciaga “remained forever a Spaniard..” as bullfighters, flamenco, religion and Spanish Art are some of the subject matters that strongly influenced his work. Balenciaga retired in 1968 and died in 1972 leaving the world of fashion with empty shoes that could never be filled. It is said that upon his death Women’s Wear Daily headlined its story “The King is Dead”….indeed he was.
Personally, I have been enamored with his work ever since I became conscious of fashion. His work is part of what made me believe in fashion and what made me want to be a part of such an amazing craft. Recently, I visited an exhibition at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute dedicated to this incredible master of fashion. I’ve had the pleasure of admiring his pieces many times before in various museums and fashion museums, but seeing it all in one place almost brought tears to my eyes, not because I take fashion too seriously, but because something that can ignite such inspiration ought to be taken seriously.
The exhibition, stunningly curated by Vogue’s own, Hamish Bowles in collaboration with Oscar de la Renta, who is the chairman of the board at the institute, compile an unforgettable collection of some of his most influential work that still exists thanks to the many lenders that made this exhibition of noteworthy fashion history possible. The exhibition is divided into six themes that consider his major influences such as the Royal Court, Religious Life, Spanish Art, Regional Press, Dance and the Bullfight.
Due to the success of the exhibition, showing hours have been extended until the exhibition close on February 19th, so run don’t walk to see it. It’s worth every fashion minute whether you’re a fashion lover or not. Stop by and admire a piece of fashion history, the making of a master, Balenciaga. You will be inspired not only to know but to love fashion.