Balenciaga: Spanish Master

by jennine on November 16, 2010


Many artists and designers move to the big city and loose all their colloquial references. It’s bound to happen. Cristobal Balenicaga was a Spanish designer who set up shop in Paris. Honestly, I never put much thought into Balenicaga’s roots. I mean, look at the collections today, headed by Nicolas Ghesquière (French) who bounds into the future with his use of materials and concepts of clothing. Today, I had the opportunity to see the Balenciaga: Spanish Master exhibition at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, Nov 19th-Feb19th (Thanks Gilda!).  There I learned, the original Balenciaga design house, was very much rooted in Spanish culture, tradition and regional cues as well as Spanish artists like Goya and Picasso in such literal ways, the inspiration was unmistakable.

Dress inspired by flamenco dancers…

(Henry Clarke, 1951)

A silk crepe and chou wrap inspired by Goya..

(Courtesy of the Balenciaga Archives)

Evening cape inspired by Catholic religious dress…

(Courtesy of Kenny Kormer)

Jacket inspired by matadors…  I love the bobbles!

I missed what this is inspired by, but dang, it’s gorgeous.

I’ve been looking for a new coat… and this one is stunning. Why don’t they make these coats anymore?

The hats are delicious! Inspired by bull fighters and flamenco dancers…

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Penny Dreadful Vintage November 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Wow, this is incredible. I had no idea about the influences, though it is so obvious when you point it out. Wish I was able to go to this exhibition.
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Tami November 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Sooooo beautiful. Always been a huge fan of Balenciaga - maybe I was a Spanish dancer in a past life. ;)
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Sylvia November 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm

i am so green with envy right now! i love Balenciaga and Spain and all these photos are incredible! i would love to see this exhibit!

Reply Maegan November 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm

wow what a glorious post!!!! That fur ensemble is outrageous. I want it ;)
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Gone Monteiro November 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I love Critobal’s designs, they were so beautiful and poetic, you could feel the romance and the Spanish vibe just by looking at them.
Nicholas is also a good creative, but it’s my conviction that he somewhat forgets about the history of the house and tries to do more futuristic stuff. But maybe it’s just me…

P.S - You have a little typo at the beggining of the text, thought you’d like to know.
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Susan November 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I love the Reina Sofia museum and would have loved to see this exhibit (sadly, no trips to Madrid planned currently…)



Susan November 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Okay, I just realized this exhibit is in NYC, not at the museum I was thinking of in Spain. A little closer, but probably still not in the cards, so thanks again for sharing.
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Madeleine Gallay November 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Beautiful grouping.

Cristobal Balenciaga was the poet in haute couture.


Jessi de Bergerac November 16, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Beautiful, thanks for sharing!


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Joy D. November 17, 2010 at 8:08 am

I die a bit looking at those hats. They are so adorable!
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The Well-Appointed Catwalk November 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

What a great post, Janine! I really never knew much about the roots of Balenciaga, so thank you. That last hat has to be my favorite!
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The Well-Appointed Catwalk November 17, 2010 at 11:00 am

Well now I feel like a jerk! I spelled your name wrong. Sorry!
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Laura Connell November 17, 2010 at 10:39 am

I love when art, fashion, and history collide. I also love how much I learn about fashion from reading blogs like yours. What a wonderful exhibit. And I agree, fur and ribbon together are so feminine and fetching.


Stella Shops November 17, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Mizzie and I were able to see a lot of Balenciaga’s work from the 1940’s and 1950’s at the Golden Age of Couture Exhibit in Nashville. To say the pieces were stunning is an understatement. It was a beautiful exhibit and many of the Balenciaga and Balmain pieces ended up being our favorites.



verychiclist November 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm

beautiful dresses, very theatrical…far from the Balenciaga of today.
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Casey November 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Oooh! Can I just say I am extremely jealous that you got to see this exhibit?! I’ve adored Cristobal Balenciaga’s genius for years; I could study the masterful draping for hours. ;) Thanks for sharing these pictures!!! I think the last hat is my favorite-how cute!

♥ Casey | blog
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Kira Sherrine November 19, 2010 at 6:15 am

That exhibit is in F.I.T’s Museum in NYC. Mostly for the students and open to the public.
If your alumni (like me) you can request to have the clothes in a lab room for viewing and touching (aka checking construction).

I had to do that project with Balenciaga years ago… and dealt with the gathered neck red coat.


Candace November 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

I dont know about anyone else, but i see chocolate truffles and decadent foil wrapped candies when i look at those hats! yummeh!
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Girl a la Mode November 21, 2010 at 5:35 am

Stunning pieces! The shoulders on the final coat are a dream. Do you think the shoulders would be too heavy? You’d probs have to leave your shoulder bag in the wardrobe and opt for clutch!


QueenGilda November 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm

i can’t understand why we didn’t see each other in that tiny little building!! mind-boggling.

i went to the exhibit representing my RightyRightyRight magazine. my photographer and i took like, 100 pictures. it was too good!! i uploaded it onto our new website but i definitely want to have it on our magazine as well. i thought it was completely educational! and now i’m so smitten by hamish bowles after meeting him. didn’t interview him, no i was too shy, but damn he was so nice!!

i’m really glad you could get through the press pass thing, within those short few hours! apparently if you went to see the exhibit now, no photos are allowed. i feel so priveleged; completely lucky!!
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katie kirby November 22, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Absolutely beautiful! The fur and hats are divine!


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