I think I may have a thing for Balenciaga couture. Whenever I open a website or visit a city, I will see, somewhere, the next exhibition about the great couturier. And another story to tell about these beautiful designs that inspired us all. Therefore, I couldn’t skip the Balenciaga exhibition, “Balenciaga, l’œuvre au noir” exhibition at Musée Bourdelle, in Paris. Not when the theme of it is the black and the setup is somewhere between sculptures and paintings. Fashion and art are so, so together this year.
The Palais Galliera is paying homage to the couturiers’ couturier, Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972), with an exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle entitled: Balenciaga, l’œuvre au noir. The exhibition resonates with the black tones of an alchemist of haute couture. Balenciaga pieces are displayed alongside the plaster casts in the Great Hall and there are more in Bourdelle’s studios and in the contemporary Portzamparc wing of the museum. Balenciaga’s work sets up a powerful, black-on-white dialogue with the great, late 19th-and early 20th-century sculptor.
Black – for Balenciaga’s inspiration: the spiritual underpinnings of his work were the folklore and traditions of his Spanish childhood. Black – for the ascetic taste of this extraordinarily skilful tailor who gave us: the barrel line (1947), the balloon (1950), the semi- tted (1951), the tunic dress (1955), and, of course, the sack dress (1957). Black – for the monastic in uence on the master, of whom Dior once said: ‘Clothes were his religion’.
The first part of the exhibition trail, ‘Silhouette & Volumes’, is followed by ‘Noirs & Lumières’ (‘Black & Light’), and then ‘Noirs et Couleurs’ (‘Blacks & Colours’). Variations of black repeated in over a hundred pieces from the Galliera collections and the archives of Maison Balenciaga.
Photography: ©Pierre Antoine