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The legacy of a genius

The Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum develops an ambitious programme of exhibits and events aimed at raising the profile of Cristóbal Balenciaga, highlighting his important role in the history of fashion and design, and his legacy on today’s world of fashion. An opportunity to reflect on the heritage value of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s work from the moment of closing his salons in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastián.

This was the starting point of the exhibition Cristóbal Balenciaga, Fashion and Heritage, the moment when Balenciaga’s creations left the streets and salons to inhabit the archives, galleries and museums. No longer lending beauty to bodies to become admired as beautiful in themselves. Perfection, timelessness, vanguardism, or simply art, are concepts often used by his professional colleagues, the specialised press or fashion history exports to identify the work of one of the 20th century’s most influential designers, making Balenciaga a cult couturier in his own time.

The musuem invites us on a diachronic tour showing us how the work of the couturier evolved in its successive stages while aspiring to become a benchmark exhibition for understanding and taking an in-depth look at the heritage generated by Cristóbal Balenciaga: where he came from, what he contributed in his day and what he transmits to us today. His capacity for innovation, in subtle and constant evolution, his knowledge of fabric, his sense of proportion and measurement, and his vision and interpretation of the female body that earned him veneration as one of the most influential designers of all times.

In his creative evolution, Balenciaga researched, experimented with, introduced and perfected different lines that changed the prevailing female silhouette, moving away from the socio-cultural norms of the time and gradually introducing higher degrees of abstraction. Focussing on the back, blurring the waistline, generating volumes and simplifying the cut. His own words would define his work as an artist: “a couturier must be an architect for plans, a sculptor for shapes, an artist for colour, a musician for harmony and a philosopher for the sense of proportion.”