Trip to Paris: Balenciaga, the true “couturier”

One of the secrets of my growth as a designer is based on the trips I make. Whenever I have some time to travel, I usually dedicate it to visit exhibitions and events linked to Fashion, which help me to train in the different fields of design, trends, patternmaking and textile history. If you already have the technical bases and on top of that you have a self-taught capacity and attitude, this form of self-training is much more effective and rewarding than any Fashion course or school.

This time there was an exhibition of Balenciaga in the fantastic museum-atelier Bourdelle in Paris, that I could not miss - so I took a flight to the French capital and conceived my visit around this event, while also taking the opportunity to visit other points of interest in the city that I had no opportunity to visit the last time I was there

Whenever we talk about Fashion it is inevitable to talk about Chanel, Dior and some other great historical names that marked this industry forever, but not all people know that The genesis of all this haute couture comes from a Spaniard who, like many others, had to emigrate to succeed: Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Son of fisherman and seamstress, this Basque took a very Spanish style to the French capital to dress Parisians at the end of the 30 years. While it was evolving, it was showing a striking, ostentatious and modern style that Fashion had not seen in many years and that reached the 50 years so that Christian Dior continued with his legacy.

Black was one of the most used colors. On the one hand, playing with their different shades, mattes and glitters, it allows to evoke both the intensity of the light, as the folklore and the traditions of our country - In fact, if you look at it, in Spain the duality between shadows and lights is inherent in all forms of artistic expression (and even religious and social). On the other hand, Black in Fashion is also constantly a renunciation of color and all its artifice, which allows only the essence of the volumes to be preserved, something that Balenciaga perfectly mastered.

The Bourdelle Museum could not be more suitable for this magnificent exhibition. Antoine Bourdelle was one of the most prominent French sculptors during the Belle Époque and this spectacular current museum was the workshop in which he made his works and through which great names of impressionism passed who came here to learn from his art, and which is preserved as and as its artist left it.

Balenciaga dresses are exhibited as a play of shadows and mirrors with the luminous sculptures of Bourdelle, which couldn't make more sense. Fashion and Sculpture design constantly seek the balance of proportions and the correct choice of material to adapt to movement. I learned with this exhibition that for Balenciaga the dresses took shape once on the mannequin and that this master finished molding and readjusting them once their garments acquired the desired shape - something very similar to the technique that I use every day with my clients, When I start from a basic pattern that breaks down the garment into planes and finally I readjust it on the body of each woman according to their shapes and according to the fabric used. This is how it is cut, cinched and draped according to the volume of the bodies and weight / thickness / fall / touch of each fabric, this is how couturiers work.

I learned a lot and I have been able to remember that all designers have to be constantly researching and experimenting, to not only evolve but also to decompose and build reality with our art and expertise Traditional.

I usually say that anyone knows how to make 4 poorly painted strokes or talk about trends as if it were a fashion highlight - I often meet people who call themselves “designer”, when many of them have not patronized or sewn a single garment in his life ... But design talent goes far beyond that.

Already in his time Balenciaga was one of the few designers who fully dominated the pattern, sewing, fabric handling and connection with the women he wore. As Coco Chanel herself said about Balenciaga: He is the only one of us who is a true “couturier”.

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