The Antwerp’s Mode Museum is the source of much anticipation and excitement as the 79-year-old house of Balenciaga prepares to celebrate the work of their founding father, Cristóbal Balenciaga.
As Demna Gvsalia takes position as the reigning designer of the Parisian couture house, the exhibition pays homage to the luxury brands exciting future whilst praising its past as one of the biggest game changers in 20th-century fashion. The “Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette” exhibition explores Balenciaga’s radical approach to the female form in the 50s and 60s, showcasing its controversial approach as one of the pioneering brands of architectural volumes that favoured the freedom of movement.
Radically altering the fashionable silhouette of women in the mid-twentieth century, the true fashion innovator utilised his methodical skills as an expert tailor and garments of fluidity and grace.
Born with bounds of creativity and a visionary ambition, the Spaniards whimsical abilities to drape, cut, and fit his own muslin patterns, known as toiles granted him his position as one of the holy grail couturiers. (Momu, 2016)
Cristobal Balenciaga, AW 1967
The fruitful exhibition will also present the works of Coco Chanel and Paul Poiret in the 20s and 30s, to Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake in the 80s and 90s – positioning Balenciaga as the major mid-century figure in revolutionizing the wearable architecture of fashion. (I-D, 2016)
As fashion has evolved over time, its become more than a progression of seasonal trends, great importance is now placed on how to shape the body. Rei Kawakubo’s ‘Body meets Dress, Dress Meets Body’ collection of SS 1997 reveals how these new shapes have become a part of the fashion vocabulary.
With loans from prestigious collections of the museum of Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the V&A, MUDE Lisbon and Musée Galliera, the exhibition offers 100 unique couture and ready-to-wear silhouettes by Cristóbal Balenciaga and the fellow innovators of modern fashion.
Delivering the silhouette in a conceptual light, Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen hosts a cosmical narrative of futuristic fashion. Constructing their sculptural dress by means of lazer cutting, hand weaving and 3-D printing, Van Herpen’s dramatic silhouette is eccentric and yet simple. (Vogue, 2016)
Liberating women from tight corsets at the beginning of the 20th century, large influences emerged from Japan such as the introduction of the kimono. (Met Museum, 2016)
Issey Miyake, 1990-2015
As the boundaries of the classic silhouette gradually expanded by the beginning of the 20th century, designers worldwide introduced their modern ideas regarding femininity into their designs. With Japanese and Belgian powerhouses (Miyake, Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester and Martin Margiela among them), it is more than apparent that Balenciaga’s revolutionary work will be revealed in this innovative context.
“Haute Couture is like an orchestra, whose conductor is Balenciaga. We other couturiers are musicians and we follow the direction he gives.” — Christian Dior (Dazed, 2016)
The exhibition runs from March 18-August 14, 2016 at Mode Museum, Antwerp