Back in 2018 I went to see the Balenciaga exhibition at the V&A in London and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew Balenciaga for its dimensions and architectural designs for coats and dresses. As I wandered between those gowns, there were quotes from Chanel, Dior and other iconic fashion designers written all over the walls.
Balenciaga is the only couturier in the truest sense of the word. The others are simply fashion designers.– Coco Chanel
The book is super well written and entertaining, almost picking up on Baleciaga’s design: thoughtful, rich, simple and elegant. It’s bursting with information, each time striking the right balance between getting straight to the point and pure admiration for the artist. I breezed through it and each time I picked it up, I felt refreshed and inspired. It is wonderful story of a young peasant boy who simply adored feminine elegance.
Haute couture is like an orchestra, for which only Balenciaga is the conductor. The rest of us are just musicians, following the directions he gives us.– Christian Dior
Growing up in a Basque fisher village, he admired the outfits of a rich family who rented a house for the summer. Balenciaga observed at a young age the careful manner in which elegant women carried themselves on their way to church. One of the women once wore an impeccable costume which she had bought from Poiret in Paris. Boldly, Balenciaga stated that he could replicate the suit if he had the linen. She laughed it off, but it was yet astounding how a young peasant seemed so taken by beauty. She gave him the linen and Balenciaga, who has never touched a sewing machine to this point, started working on the costume day and night until its completion. The result was pretty perfect and started giving him some recognition amongst the upper class women from the village. So he sewed some more, eventually moved to Paris and the rest is history. He received help and opportunities from those ladies he admired, they are the foundation of his empire.
A couturier must be an architect for design, a sculptor for shape, a painter for colour, a musician for harmony, and a philosopher for temperance.– Cristobal Balenciaga
But really, his success in fashion was already written in his face. His facial features oozed sophistication. His eyes were only open to exquisite beauty. The calmness and seriousness with which he approached the women wearing Parisian haute couture made him stand out for his young age. How else can one explain why a young peasant boy from a fisher village was so susceptible to beauty, carrying a unique talent that would make this a conductor in the haute couture world of fashion? You can not.