Before last week, when I thought of 'Balenciaga' the first thing that popped into my mind was Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and the "Classic" motorcycle bag that was all the rage in 2005. I knew the house of Balenciaga had much more depth than the "Bimbo Summit" as the NY Post so proudly proclaimed, but I had no clue as to the history or how the founder, Cristobal Balenciaga, drew inspiration from his Spanish seaside upbringing and translated it to Paris haute couture. Being the fashion nerd that I am, I went to the Hamish Bowles lecture at FIT on his curated exhibit, Balenciaga: Spanish Master, at the Queen Sophia Spanish Institute in NYC to get the scoop from the expert. I totally adore Mr. Bowles' writing in Vogue, and I am constantly amused by the complete out-of-his-element assignments he receives, most likely from La Wintour herself, being that he is a total dandy. My personal faves include surf school with Blake Lively and living with an urban gardener slash dumpster-diver type.
Back to Balenciaga--during the hour of going through one amazingly famous photograph after another with one amazingly gag-worthy garment after another, Hamish narrated the connection between the designs and how they related directly to Balenciaga's Spanish upbringing (along with plenty of lol and quote-worthy anecdotes). The Cathlolic Church, Spanish regional dress, flamenco dancing costumes, bullfighting, and Spanish artists from Velasquez to Miro have all influenced his designs in such a direct way it is like a slap in the face and Ah-Ha moment in one. To fuel the fire of my newfound obsession, I headed to the exhibit at the Spanish Institute the following day. There was no time to be wasted while the info was fresh in my mind. Up close and personal, the clothing is even more breathtaking, and the attention to detail and finishing made my own ensemble look like a home-ec project. Below are some of my favorite pieces that are featured in the exhibit. If you are a fashion-phile or a lover of luxe you will enjoy this collection. I have been truly inspired, and who wouldn't love a designer who told his protege, Hubert de Givenchy, "A ruffle must be intelligent."
Balenciaga: Spanish Master
curated by Hamish Bowles
through Saturday, November 19th 2011
Park Ave. between 68th and 69th
Or, catch it in San Francisco at the de Young Museum from March, 26 through July, 4 2011.