London: Shaping Fashion with Balenciaga at the V&A

I love a good fashion exhibit, so when I learned that the V&A was showcasing the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga last winter, I knew I had to carve out a slot for it on my itinerary. In truth, however, I didn’t know a thing about Balenciaga, other than the fact that … he made couture gowns? That was pretty much it.

Going in not knowing much, I was delighted to find how much I enjoyed the exhibit, which unfolded in two phases: the ground floor covered Balenciaga’s work; the second floor, work from designers who were inspired by him. More than anything, I realized right away why the exhibit was titled “Shaping Fashion” – so many of the pieces were sculptural marvels. I loved seeing how Balenciaga played with volume and proportion, and how he was influenced by his heritage (for example, the gown below on the right is flamenco-inspired).

This green dress was one of my very favorites – isn’t it a dream?

I believe this coat is what we would fondly refer to as “Muppet chic”:

My favorite part of the exhibit was definitely the looks by Balenciaga himself. That said, there were some stunning gowns upstairs, too:

The exhibit is now closed, so I can’t encourage anyone reading now to run out and see it. But what I can say is that Balenciaga’s work is pretty special, and I’ll always take a closer look now whenever I hear his name mentioned in the future.


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