Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at the V&A in May 2017

Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn wearing a mantel coat by Balenciaga *** Local Caption *** Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn;

Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn wearing coat by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1950. Photograph by Irving Penn © Condé Nast, Irving Penn Foundation.jpg


Last week, the V&A announced that it will open the first ever UK exhibition exploring the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga and his continuing influence on modern fashion in May 2017. It will not be the same exhibition as that at Palais Galliera in Paris from 8 March to 16 July 2017. This show is curated by Cassie Davies-Strodder and will be the first UK exhibition Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will be the first to examine Balenciaga’s unique approach to making and will showcase pieces by his protégés and contemporary designers inspired by the Spanish designer or working in the same innovative way today. It will feature iconic pieces from the V&A’s Balenciaga collections and trace the courturier’s influence on fashion designers working today, from Hussein Chalayan, Erdem, Molly Goddard to Gareth Pugh.

The exhibition marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house in San Sebastian and the 80th anniversary of the opening of his famous fashion house in Paris.

Cassie Davies-Strodder, V&A exhibition curator, said: “Cristóbal Balenciaga was one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century. Revered by his contemporaries, including Coco Chanel and Hubert de Givenchy, his exquisite craftsmanship, pioneering use of fabric and innovative cutting set the tone for the modernity of the late 20th century fashion. The exhibition will show his lasting impact on fashion through the work of those who trained with him and through recent garments by designers including Molly Goddard, Demna Gvasalia and J.W. Anderson who reflect the legacy of his vision today.”

Taking a scientific approach, for the first time the V&A has used x-ray technology to take a forensic look at the hidden details inside Balenciaga’s garments. These images, made with x-ray artist Nick Veasey, show structures invisible to the naked eye, including dress weights strategically placed to determine the exact hang of the skirt in one of Balenciaga’s most minimal designs, and boning in dress bodices, dispelling the myth that he did not use such structures. Fascinating!





Christobal BALENCIAGA (à gauche).






© Mark Shaw /