Selections on display were pulled from the archive of late designer Azzedine Alaïa and offer an up close and personal view into the golden age of haute couture.
Born in Getaria, Spain in 1895, young Balenciaga showed a promising interest in fashion from an early age. The son of a seamstress, he soon began working alongside her as she created garments for Spanish nobility. As he grew so did his skills, and in his teenage years he gained the distinction of becoming a master tailor. Following his passion, he moved to Madrid and rose to prominence as a designer for the Spanish royal family.
Over the years, Balenciaga’s couture atelier on Avenue George V in Paris established him as one of the most prominent and sought-after couriers in the world. European royalty, members of high society, and even Hollywood stars came to rely on Balenciaga for his incredible style and design skills.
He was one of the only couturiers at the time who was able to pattern, cut, and tailor his own designs, which earned him the respect of his fellow designers including Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Hubert de Givenchy, and Pierre Balmain. Some of Balenciaga’s silhouettes were considered groundbreaking at the time, such as the square coat, sack dress, baby doll dress, balloon dress, and peacock tail dress.
Credit: Neal Barr
Credit: Neal Barr
“It is an honor to bring the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga — one of the greatest couturiers who has held supreme influence over generations of designers — to SCAD FASH,” explained Rafael Gomes, Creative Director of SCAD FASH Museums. “This exhibition presents Balenciaga’s unmatched artistic mastery and is an exclusive opportunity for our students and museum guests to marvel at his genius and his everlasting mark on fashion history.”
Visitors to the exhibition may find themselves transported back in time, to an era of exquisite fashion and incredible designs. The selection includes both daywear and eveningwear, and features gowns worn by Elizabeth Taylor and Dolores del Rio. Paired with illustrations by Balenciaga himself, the display offers unique insight into the design process of one of the most celebrated designers of all time.
“Royalty comes to Atlanta as the ‘King of Fashion’ holds court at SCAD FASH, the crown jewel of couture higher education,” said Paula Wallace, SCAD President and Founder in a statement.
“From daywear to eveningwear, Balenciaga’s broad shoulders, dropped waistline, and impeccable fabrics will forever define elegance. As his beloved contemporary Christian Dior mused, ‘Haute couture is like an orchestra, whose conductor is Balenciaga.’ Experience this majestic sartorial symphony — only at SCAD FASH.”
This exhibition serves as a continuation of excellence for the SCAD FASH museum. Through thoughtful curation and a devotion to historic fashion designers, Gomes and everyone at SCAD FASH have brought some incredible works to Atlanta, putting the city on the map as a hub for fashion lovers and budding designers alike.
“It is a real honor to work with SCAD on this new exhibition dedicated to Balenciaga through the private collection of Azzedine Alaïa, developed since 1968,” said Gaël Mamine, Head of Balenciaga Heritage. The curatorial decisions that were made in this exhibition explore Balenciaga’s technical control, his skilled hand, and his deep understanding of how garments were constructed.
“Azzedine felt it was his duty and had the vision to preserve Balenciaga’s couture savoir faire when he was personally called upon by Mademoiselle Renée, director of the house, to collect select fabrics and garments as the house was closed per Mr. Balenciaga’s wishes,” continued Mamine. “This special Balenciaga exhibition is a way to show to the public the timeless vision of the couturier admired by all, from Christian Dior to Coco Chanel.”
The museum hosted a VIP opening event on Wed., Jan. 24 which included an intimate conversation in the film salon with curators Gael Mamine from Fondation Azzedine Alaïa, and head of Balenciaga Archives Gaspard Demasse who spoke with Gomes and SCAD fashion historian Carmela Spinelli.
Credit: Rough Draft Atlanta
Credit: Rough Draft Atlanta
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