Last night, I attended a lecture at The Fashion Institute of Technology a.k.a. FIT featuring Hamish Bowles, European Editor at Large of Vogue Magazine. Hamish Bowles spoke on the deceased designer, Cristobal Balenciaga. Balenciaga was called, “The Master of Us All” by Christian Dior and “The Only True Couturier” by Coco Chanel. In fact, when he passed, WWD titled their article: “The King is Dead”. So why is Cristobal Balenciaga the master? Well according to Wikipedia, he transformed the silhouette by broadening the shoulders and removing the waist. Hamish Bowles also stated that every woman that he interviewed for the exhibit said that no matter how elegant or intricate a design was, Balenciaga’s clothes were alway easy to wear and move around in.
If you look at Balenciaga’s designs this is evident. The clothes are a reflection of movement therefore they are movement. Balenciaga was inspired by Spanish Flamenco dancers and he often incorporated their costumes into his designs. Balenciaga used Spanish culture and Catholicism as a source of inspiration throughout his career. During his lecture, Hamish Bowles showed pictures comparing Balenciaga’s work to 17th Century Spanish art, to Flamenco dancers, to the wives of fisherman, and the work of artist Pablo Picasso.
By making these distinct and brilliant comparisons, Hamish Bowles was able to truly dissect Balenciaga as not just an artist, craftsmen, or fashion designer but as a deeply religious man who used fashion as a form of prayer and sacrifice. In fact, Hamish Bowles used those words almost exactly and in my opinion, this is certainly the case. Balenciaga’s work is so beautiful and artistic so it seems to be something that could be paying homage to God a.k.a. a higher power whom we should praise and dedicate ourselves to. In that sense, Balenciaga is so much more than a man who designed and made clothes, he could be thought of as a Saint sent here to dress women with elegance, grace, and (wait for it, my fave Kay Thompson phrase) pizzazz.
Below, I have included a video that features pictures from the slide show shown by Hamish Bowles and clips from his lecture. The pictures in the slide show are from the Balenciaga: The Spanish Master exhibit which is now on view at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York. Please check out the video and be on the lookout for follow up articles on the exhibition and Balenciaga.
And there it is. The Fashion and Style of the Pen…de la Pen.
For More Information on the Balenciaga Exhibit Visit: