Balenciaga character

In the context of the 50th anniversary of Cristóbal Balenciaga's death, commemorated this year 2022, the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum explores a new aspect of his work, never previously studied, and focused on what makes “a Balenciaga” recognisable.

Cristóbal Balenciaga Eizaguirre (Getaria 1895- Valencia 1972), dubbed the “Master” of haute couture by his professional colleagues –Dior, Chanel and Givenchy– was one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century.

Over a professional career spanning five decades, he directed his haute couture maisons in Spain —en San Sebastián (1917), Madrid (1933) and Barcelona (1935)— and France —Paris (1937)— while making his name synonymous with elegance,avant-garde, beauty and timelessness.

Outstanding in his work, profuse in improbable volumes and fabrics taken to the limit of their possibilities, is the meticulous detail of every buttonhole, the sumptuous embroideries, the precision in every sleeve, and the minimum number of seams in the cut.

But what is “a Balenciaga”? What sets it apart? What makes it recognisable? What lends it its character? From the historicist silhouettes of the late 30s to the more abstract designs of the 60s, and his iconic lines of the 50s, the shapes and volumes created by Cristóbal Balenciaga are his strongest identifying features.

However, coexisting with the aspects visible from the outside is an interior world that lends the garment its support and forges its character. Labels, petticoats, bodices, pads, weights, linings, hems, sets of buttons and pockets are all among the invisible aspects of the garments, secrets that this exhibition reveals together with Balenciaga’s appreciable exterior shapes and characteristics.

Curated by Igor Uria, Collections Director at the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum, this show displays 90 articles spread over five rooms in which to appreciate silhouettes, volumes, fabrics and embroidery work, and to discover that interior world, often hidden, made possible by the cut, technique and finishes of haute couture.