|Balenciaga SS12 (vogue.it)|
Just as Chanel and Vionnet, it was founded in the early twentieth century by a visionary - Cristóbal Balenciaga. Many books have been written about him but the latest, published in October 2011, is the first serious publication by a Basque fashion historian, who has undertaken a thorough research covering Spanish archives and museum collections.
Last night, the Victoria and Albert Museum hosted an evening talk about the book Cristóbal Balenciaga: The Work of a Master with author Miren Arzalluz, who was wearing an amazing vintage Balenciaga ensemble.
|Balenciaga: L'Officiel (October 1950) and Harper's Bazaar (November 1950)|
Arzalluz, who is also the curator at the Balenciaga Foundation, presented the man behind the label and the roots of his Parisian success. It was very inspiring to go through his life and all circumstances which made him one of the most outstanding designers of the twentieth century.
|Oldest known model to date: 1912 tailored suit and cocktail dress, 1962|
Having lost is father when he was just 11 years old, he started to help his mother, who was a seamstress to the Spanish upper class. Due to his mother's clients, he entered a world of refinement.
|Evening Dress 1959 (metmuseum.org)|
One family in particular was very influential, giving him access to an impressive art collection, from Velasquez to Goya, and to fashion magazines and books. After an apprenticeship finished in record time, Balenciaga started to work as a tailor when he was only 16 and in 2 years he secured a position in a department that enabled him to travel to Paris.
|Dress Ensemble 1965-66 and Day Dress 1955-56 (metmuseum.org)|
He established his business after the first World War, when wealthy foreigners were escaping to San Sebastian bringing with them the most well known couturiers of the time, from Worth to Chanel and Vionnet.
|Baby Doll Dress 1958 (critobalbalenciagamuseoa.com)|
Balenciaga moved to Paris after the Spanish civil war, when he was 42, but his success was not due to luck but the result of years of hard work and incredible talent.
|Evening Cape 1963 (vam.ac.uk)|
His clothes have their own artistic autonomy based on Balenciaga's view of the human body as conceptual. His meticulous technique and creative genius became legendary and his creations are timeless, undoubtedly the mark of a true visionary!
|Dovima in Balenciaga photographed by Richard Avedon, 1940|
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