The Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion finished on 18th February but my visit confirmed my view that the Spanish designer is ‘Cristóbal Balenciaga the master of structure and style’.
A thoughtful gift from my son Ian, of a V&A membership, saw me heading down to London to catch the exhibition before it closed.
Membership also included a fabulous guided tour of the galleries by one of the V&A’s curators. Her knowledge and ability to make the galleries and exhibits come to life were awesome. I discovered galleries I didn’t know existed.
The garments may appear, at first glance, to be simple shapes.
Closer inspection reveals Balenciaga’s artistry of linking fabric to form and the use of inner construction techniques and materials. This is most probably my favourite way of working. Although I love designing clothes it tends to be the fabric that inspires my design ideas.
Matching fabric to design and design to fabric is one of the challenges for a dressmaker. It comes with practice and a few miss-hits.
The silhouettes are inspiring and balanced.
The construction attention detail reminded me very much of the Yves Saint Laurant exhibition at the Bowes Museum.
X-rays of the garments revealed inner construction and corsetry.
Balenciaga’s tailoring tools could be used in any modern workroom and show how little techniques and equipment have changed.
The exhibition not only highlighted Balenciaga’s work but in the upstairs gallery a wide collection of work by other designers inspired by the couturier.
Was I inspired? Yes, I was. It was a reminder of why I love making clothes, playing with fabrics and why we need ‘ahead of their time’ designer’s like Balencigia to constantly drive fashion forward.
Any sewer can learn skills to produce couture level clothes. Our Couture Sewing Skills covers using challenging fabrics, the role of underlinings and couture hand sewing stitches.
The new Jane White Couture Tuition Programme closely follows the recently withdrawn City & Guild 7160 syllabus where you learn how to design, pattern cut and construct clothes with stylish individuality and a fantastic fit.