The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of my favourite places to visit. They have an amazing array of different artefacts stretching back hundreds of years. But I particularly love their focus on fashion and textiles through time. This Summer, they have a really beautiful exhibition of Balenciaga’s work, showcasing his skill and his influence.
Cristobal Balenciaga was a hugely influential Spanish designer, whose fashion house is still a major player today, and whose groundbreaking designs and playing with shape have influenced designers for generations. Active from 1917 all the way through to the 70’s, his work takes on suiting and more vintage shapes, to wildly different designs.
The beautiful entrance to the V&A, which is free to enter and look around, though this exhibition has a £12 ticket fee. They have loads more fashion and textiles, and their books are well worth exploring if you love fashion history.
These shoes come from the wardrobe of a past Balenciaga devotee whose items were generously lent for the showing. She had individual pairs of shoes made to match each dress or outfit she owned.
Quotes about the influence of the designer abound, both his own and those of designers like Christian Dior, some of which made me laugh in their emphatic praise of Cristobal. But he really was hugely influential.
His designs often played with shape and proportion, particularly during the 60’s and into the 70’s. Here you can see the defined waist is still present, but the skirt balloons. The exhibition has a wonderful focus on the design, with x-rays of the dresses featured, as seen in the background, so you can really see the construction elements.