Ok, I might be overstating this somewhat, but I was completely blown away on a recent visit to the Cristóbal Balenciaga museum in Spain. I ended up spending 2.5 hours in there.
The museum is in Getaria, Balenciaga’s home town. I didn’t know this place existed until after I’d booked my holiday, so it was a lovely surprise. What more could I want from a holiday – sandy beaches, mountains of tapas and a museum on one of the most influential couturiers of the 20th century!
The collection is vast and displayed over 3 floors in a modern purpose built museum. It details Balenciaga’s early work as a dressmaker to European aristocracy to his haute couture label in Paris. Balenciaga is known for prints, embroidery and fluid lines that caressed rather than constrained the body. He created the tunic and sack dress silhouettes and pioneered new fabrics such as gazar which gave structure to his increasingly sculptural creations.
Some of his designs were so ahead of their time you could wear them now and no one would guess it was vintage. I think the column dresses below look really contemporary. There’s a hilarious film in the museum of a model wearing one of his sack dresses in the fifties walking down the street being gawped at in disbelief by an old lady.
My favourite room was the one which displayed the hallmarks which characterised his designs. What I found particularly fascinating as a sewist were the interactive displays which showed the individual pattern pieces and how they came together to form the garment in front of you. Some displays also rotated, so you could see them from all angles.
The museum what one of my holiday highlights and definitely worth a visit for anyone with an interest in costume.