With the opening of the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, we take a deeper look at the influence and life of the designer who ruled as they King of Couture during  the time of Coco Chanel and Christian Dior.

Cristóbal Balenciaga
Cristóbal Balenciaga

1. In a time when cinched waists and hourglass figures reigned supreme, Balenciaga revolutionised the women’s silhouette. He experimented with volume and played with shape and structure and created his famous square coat, balloon jacket and envelope dress.

2. Coco Chanel described him as; “a couturier in the truest sense of the word.”

3. He learnt the art of garment construction from his mother who was a seamstress and from his experience as a tailor’s apprentice from the age of 12.

4. He opened his first haute couture atelier when he was just 22 years old.

5. Balenciaga popularised the sack dress and baby doll dress silhouettes which are still an integral part of modern fashion.  

6. He preferred working in stiff fabrics which he could use to sculpt his garments.

7. He created a fabric called silk gazar in collaboration with Swiss fabric house, Abraham.

8. Balenciaga was largely influenced by the culture of Spain, with his designs often referencing flamenco dancers, bull fights and Spanish works of art.

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