Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, Exhibition at the V&A

If there is one thing I love to do, it’s going to fashion exhibitions. I’ve been to quite a few in my time such as the Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and even one about Opera at the V&A. My favourite exhibition of all time was the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A. I actually cried at that exhibition. Alexander McQueen is my favourite designer for many reasons, mainly because he was so innovative and unique and he did something that had never been done and honestly, I don’t think will ever been done again. The way the exhibition was laid out with each room symbolising one of his shows just blew my mind and I realised it was the closest I’d ever get to going to one of his shows. I hate what they’ve done with the brand since his death, nothing’s unique, just carbon copies each season, nothing crazy like he used to do. He was the only person that could achieve what he did.

ANYWAY! Last Saturday, my Mum and I went on one of our many adventures in to London to visit another exhibition. It’s one of our favourite things to do together. It was Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. The exhibition was laid out over two floors; the first floor show cased many original designs by Balenciaga himself, showing how he evolved his early works. The second floor was all about how other designers had been influenced by Balenciaga’s work, which was actually the floor I found most interesting.

I found these dresses to almost be a work of art. The way the material was used at the back and the fact the dress was completely seamless really intrigued me. I loved how detailed the back was and how the waist was cinched in on the back but not the front. These were called Tulip Dresses after their ballooned shape at the front.

Another one of Balenciaga’s staple pieces was a cape. He used the design in many of his coats and dresses and managed to make them out of just one piece of cleverly manipulated fabric. Here you can see the drawings for the cape, and then the cape itself. Behind is an x-ray, showing black circle weights used to make the fabric fall neatly.

Again, here we see a combination of a cinched in waist on the back plus the ballooning material seen in looks of Balenciaga’s work.

Upstairs is where we saw how other designers had taken inspiration for Balenciaga’s work. In this piece, the collar structured far away from the wearer’s neck was a key staple taken from Balenciaga. He did this so that a necklace could still be worn and shown off.

This denim dress was created by Azzedine Alaïa, who recently died about a month ago now. I love the box shape from the denim but how it still curves around the body. It is reminiscent of Balenciaga’s coats.

This vinyl jacket was created by Nicolas Ghesquière, who is the current artistic director at Louis Vuitton (since 2014) and once was the artistic director of Balenciaga from 1997-2012. I am a big admirer of what Nicolas has done for Louis Vuitton at the moment, I feel like he has put the brand back on the map and not just the brand that sells that damn Monogram Neverfull Bag of which the brand is famous for. Here you can see he picked up a lot of skills from working at Balenciaga, as this jacket shows the classic wide shoulders and tapered hem.

This classic from Paco Rabanne, is so reminiscent of the early 2000’s. I actually can’t see any inspiration from Balenciaga in this dress to be honest but I really want to wear it on a night out.

Over to my favourite designer of all time, Alexander McQueen. With the a-symmetrical hem, the off the shoulder top and the ruching around the waist, you can see little details taken from Balenciaga. This dress almost looks like it is made from hessian, but is actually made from wool.

This mini dress on the right is by Yves Saint Laurent. This dress is so expertly made, with each sequin and feather hand stitched. The fuller bottom at the end of the dress adds volume to the hips and is taken from Balenciaga’s coats.

As soon as I saw this piece I instantly remembered the copy of Vogue it featured in, in 2006. I loved that editorial, with Gisele Bundchen wearing this exact outfit and kicking her leg in the air. Nicolas created this when he was artistic director at Balenciaga. This cape is completely inspired by Balenciaga himself. Here is the image from Vogue.

Here is a gorgeous and iconic piece from Calvin Klein. This screams 90’s to me, which may surprise some people as the 90’s is more known for dark lipsticks and grungy clothes. However, for me, the 90’s was the peek of Calvin Klein’s fashion house, with Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell often opening his runways. This classic and simple piece takes inspiration from Balenciaga for being just so minimal and seamless.

Finally, here is a menswear piece from J.W.Anderson, a favourite of mine, famous for his recent ‘Pierce Bags‘. The cut of this jacket reminds me of Balenciaga’s use of fabric;

structured yet wearable.

I found the exhibition very interesting, with lots to look at and read about. The second floor was my favourite as I was able to go around and spot all of the Balenciaga staples in other designers work. The exhibition is on at the V&A in London until Sunday 18th February.

Before Mum and me went to the V&A, we did a spot of shopping in Selfridges. I thought you might like to see what I fell in love with and that went straight to the top of my wish list! This is the Neonoe Bag by Louis Vuitton. Now, I’ve never been a fan of Louis Vuitton bags myself, I don’t like the Monogram all over them. But as I said earlier, Nicolas has reshaped the brand and the bags they are coming out with recently have been really great. Less monogram, more leather! This bag used to be call the Noe, made from the monogram canvas and with just the long handle and a tie closure. Now the bag has been reimaginged, in to the Neonoe, made from epi leather (so more durable) and a new, shorter top handle plus the old long handle. The tie closure has been turned in to a pull tab. AND I LOVE IT. Plus it would match my Louis Vuitton boots!

Shop the bag here.

Author: rayofstyle

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