For Cristóbal Balenciaga, black was more than a color or even a noncolor; it was a vibrant matter! His amazing evolution of draping and manipulation towards fabrics was magical. Palais Galliera at Les Museés De La Ville De Paris (The City of Paris Fashion Museum) blessed the Kimball Art Museum in Forth Worth, TX with the Balenciaga in Black exhibit during the last quarter of the year. Balenciaga in Black also features select pieces from the Texas Fashion Collection at the University of North Texas in Denton. In a nutshell, Balenciaga in Black bled couture 1950's luxury high class and high dollar!
As guest enter the exhibit, a portrait of Cristóbal Balenciaga covered the entire wall, talk about a boss welcome. The exhibit brought fashionistos a journey full of equixsite creations that embodied avant garde silhouettes and of course, it was draped in all black! Balenciaga in Black started with the obivous, sketch and construction. Couture designer's guidelines are similar to sculptures and painters. Cutting sewing patterns is the first stages and the overall blue print when creating a garment. This stage is crucial because materials and fabrics must be chosen wisely for balanced proportions and fluidity.
The first stages of Balenciaga's process is draping fabric onto a dress form, produced on toile, the french term for canvas. Couture sewing is a tedious process, designers would manipulate and adjust three dimensional sketches for hours until the perfect version was drafted. Toiles are traditonally created with muslin but Cristobal's were black in hue and cut in light but firm percale, in heavier twill or sometimes stiff tarlatan, depending on the design.
It was astonishing to see that he actually hand stitched his markings for cutting patterns instead of chalk! His precision allowed him to create beautiful abstract and voluminous garments. Balenciaga's body of work was truly a timeless piece of art.
After laying the foundation, the exhibits showcased an abundant display of gowns, dresses, coats, and dazzling accessories that would literally take your breath away. The atmosphere was fun, fabulous, and filled with fashion lovers. Highlight for me, of course was a lovely woman awarding my photographer Jeremy, and I best dressed...can you guess what color we were in head to toe? It's obvious right?
Anyway, the Balenciaga in Black exhibit was a safe haven for creatives in the fashion industry.
I ran into one of my favorite designers Erica D. Woodmore, notable designer here in Dallas, TX who specializes in all black pieces @edwfashn. I also had the pleasure of meeting Najah Nash-Simpson designer of House of Nash, who just recently moved to New York city @houseofnash_.
Aside, from giving us structure and abstract volumes; The Balenciaga In Black Exhibit highlights four major concepts Cristobal used to manipulate black fabrics and textiles:
1. Draped Black 2. Contrasting Black 3. Black and Transparency 4. Black and Colors
Structured & Abstract Volumes
"Balenciaga's research and experiments gradually led him towards a deconstruction of traditional forms and the invention and elaboration of increasingly abstract figures. The garment became more than an envelope and grew to be independent of the body. Balenciaga's choice of black for his creations was a clear move towards geometry, as seen in the great wool or velvet coats surmounted by high colors reminiscent of imperious Cubist architecture."