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Balenciaga gets first UK retrospective in 2017

October 13, 2016

Archival wedding dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1967; image courtesy of Balenciaga Archival wedding dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1967; image courtesy of Balenciaga


London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is marking the 100th anniversary since the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house with an exhibit about the label’s eponymous founder.

“Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” will offer a look at Cristóbal Balenciaga’s construction, looking at how his craftsmanship and innovations influenced future fashions. The V&A has an audience with a proven interest in fashion, making this first Balenciaga exhibit staged in the country likely to draw crowds.

Looking back
Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will display around 100 garments and 20 hats from both Balenciaga and designers who followed him. The V&A owns a large Balenciaga collection, from which many pieces have not been publicly displayed before.

These will be showcased alongside sketches, photographs and fabric samples to provide context to the work, while patterns, x-rays and film will delve into the construction of the fashions.

Mr. Balenciaga is credited with helping to establish modern fashion in the later part of the 20th century.

In addition to marking the centennial of the fashion house, this chosen year also commemorates the opening of Balenciaga’s first Paris salon in 1937.

Cristobal Balenciaga

Cristóbal Balenciaga

After opening on May 27, 2017, Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will run through Feb. 18.

The V&A’s prior fashion exhibits have performed very well.

“Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” the first European retrospective for the late Lee Alexander McQueen, was the most visited paid-for exhibit in London in 2015.

Similarly to its run at the Met, the exhibit was the most popular exhibit in the Victoria & Albert museum's 163-year history, selling 493,043 tickets, according to rankings from London Exhibitions. In the rankings, the museum’s “What is Luxury?” ranked third (see story).