Breakfast at the V&A as the museum announces Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition

At the breakfast press preview where writers and editors from top magazines, including Vogue, gathered, the Victoria and Albert museum gave us a detailed preview of what was to come when its new fashion exhibition opens to the public on 27th May 2017. Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will by the UK’s first ever exhibition exploring work of Cristóbal Balenciaga. It will take us on a journey, exploring how he has influenced the history of fashion and how he continues to shape modern styles.

The exhibition will look to focus on the latter part of the Spanish designer’s long career in the 1950s and 1960s where he enjoyed his most creative spells in the industry when he dressed some of the world’s most celebrated women of those periods. It also explore some of his revolutionary shapes which includes the tunic, the sack, ‘baby doll’, and the shirt dress – all of which remain key style staples to this day.

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will showcase over one hundred garments and twenty hats, including many that have never been seen in public before. All pieces will be surrounded by archive sketches, patterns, photographs, fabric samples and catwalk footage demonstrating Balenciaga’s creativity of excellence.

The V&A’s exhibition curator Cassie Davies-Strodder said: “Cristóbal Balenciaga was one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century. Revered by his contemporaries, including Coco Chanel and Hubert de Givenchy, his exquisite craftsmanship, pioneering use of fabric and innovative cutting set the tone for the modernity of the late 20th century fashion. The exhibition will show his lasting impact on fashion through the work of those who trained with him and through recent garments by designers including Molly Goddard, Demna Gvasalia and J.W. Anderson who reflect the legacy of his vision today.”

What I also find particularly interesting is that the V&A has used x-ray technology to take a forensic look at details inside Cristóbal Balenciaga’s garments – details that cannot be seen by the human eyes. The images are made with x-ray artist Nick Veasey and show the structures, including dress weights strategically placed to determine the exact hang of the skirt in one of the designer’s most minimal designs, and the boning in dress bodices.

The exhibition will be divided into three sections: “Front of House”, including Balenciaga’s salons, behind the scenes in Balenciaga’s ‘Workrooms’ and the lasting impact of ‘Balenciaga’s Legacy’. The ‘Legacy” section will feature work of over thirty designers of the last fifty years tracing the influence of this most revered figure in fashion right up to the present day. Themes will include the exploration of his minimalist aesthetic which have recently been brought back to life by designers like Phoebe Philo for Celine and used in the strong lines of J.W. Anderson. Cristóbal Balenciaga’s pattern cutting and explorations can also be seen in the creative work of Molly Goddard and Demna Gvasalia, and the work of Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquiere has also been inspired by him.

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will open to the general public on 27 May 2017 and will run until 18 February 2018. Tickets are already on sale.


Elise Daniels with street performers, suit by Balenciaga, Le Marais, Paris, 1948. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation


Evening dress, silk taffeta, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1955 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux Magots, Paris, 1955. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation


Evening dress, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1962. Photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1971 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s


Cristóbal Balenciaga at work, Paris, 1968. Photograph Henri Cartier-Bresson © Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum Photos


Bolero jacket, EISA, Spain, 1947 © Museo Cristóbal Balenciaga


Alberta Tiburzi in ‘envelope’ dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Harper’s Bazaar, June 1967 © Hiro 1967


Flamenco-style evening dress, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1961. Photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1971 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s


Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn wearing coat by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1950. Photograph by Irving Penn © Condé Nast, Irving Penn Foundation


‘Baby doll’ cocktail dress, crêpe de chine, lace and satin, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1958 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


‘Baby doll’ cocktail dress, crêpe de chine, lace and satin, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1958 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


Oscar de la Renta, Spring Summer 2015 ready-to-wear, look 37 © Catwalking


Skirt suit, wool and silk, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, Paris, Autumn Winter 2016 ready-to-wear, look 1 © Catwalking


Spiral hat, silk, Balenciaga for Eisa, Spain, 1962 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Editor of BoyMeetsFashion.com. I eat, sleep & breathe fashion. Love the arts. Named as the 8th Top Fashion Insider by Daily Telegraph. Featured in TATLER's Bystander (four times). Described as one of London's "most stylish" people by Daily Mail. Named and featured in Evening Standard's "the Capital's Most Influential" article. I have written for The Times, Stylist Magazine, Harrods, Huffington Post, DUNE and Debenhams.