When we think of Cristóbal Balenciaga's designs, his well-known balloon skirts come to mind, and those designs with curious shapes, feminine and modern at the same time. That innovative style became the hallmark of the Balenciaga house and is exactly what the Spanish Institute Reina Sofía, in New York, wants to highlight in the exhibition BALENCIAGA: Spanish Master, the first exhibition that considers the impact that culture, history had and art from Spain in this legendary designer.
From the time she opened her first store in 1937 until she retired in 1968, Balenciaga transformed the way women dress with her original designs. According to Diana Vreeland, the well-known editor of Vogue magazine, “her inspiration came from the bullfights, the flamenco dresses, the loose blouses that fishermen used to wear, the fresh air of the cloisters”. Influences such as that of the Spanish artists Zurbarán, Goya, Picasso and Miró, as well as Spanish religious ceremonies and the history of the royal family are also analyzed in the exhibition, conceived by designer Oscar de la Renta and mounted by conservative Hamish Bowles, Europe editor of Vogue magazine.
Among the most outstanding pieces of the exhibition (which lasts until February 19) are the “Infanta” (1939) gala dress and an exquisitely embroidered wedding dress that belonged to the daughter of the designer's muse, the Marquise de Lanzol (1957). But what is impressive is being able to appreciate the superiority of clothing in all designs, including an emblematic “matador” bolero as well as dresses inspired by flamenco dancing. It is impossible to see this collection without checking the influence that Balenciaga has had on subsequent designers, and how its innovative and modern spirit continue to inspire others.