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Balenciaga and Spain: the tome that accompanies the exhibition is the closest one can get to the real thing (if the real thing is impossible). Indeed, for many a lazy afternoon, this book has been to me: part exhibit, part history lesson, and a total immersion in a culture foreign. The sartorial aspect was the inherent guiding force, as the main subject being studied was none other than the legendary designer, Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895–1972).

What fascinated me most in my perusals was the context-sensitive aspect of fashion explored. Here, the influence of country, culture, custom, and art, were all carefully curated to form an irresistible invasion of the designer’s genius.

Inspiring images, ranging a wide and complex gamut, form most of the content: at times, richly textured with life, at others, almost monastic in a strict embodiment of style and chic. But throughout, the theme is constant: that of Spain, for this is a country “stamped indelibly on the souls of its children.” As evidenced indeed, in the life and work of its visionary, Balenciaga.

Balenciaga believed ‘in the unquestionable elegance of black and white, in the color of the Spanish earth and rocks and olive trees, in the red of the bull ring, in the effective accent of turquoise, in the Goya combination of black with beige, gray with black, and in yellow.’

This Spanish house abides by the great rule that elimination is the secret of chic.

Goya, whether Balenciaga is aware of it or not, is always looking over his shoulder. He believes in lace and ribbon bows – never used in a fussy way but rather with true Spanish dignity.

For Balenciaga, designing clothes was more than a craft, more than art: it had the characteristics of a religious vocation.

…the warp-printed carnations seem, on their pale ground, like the flowers scattered on the clear yellow sand of a bullring in the blazing heat.

Black, in all its tones, was a motif of Balenciaga’s work…So, too, were the brilliant yellow and red of the Spanish flag. This is a color combination so inherent in the Spanish identity…

If a woman came in a Balenciaga dress, no other woman existed.

All images (except the first) are taken from the book. Composites were created by myself.

♥ Special thanks again to the lovely Lindsay K of Un Petit Bijou! Her lovely giveaway got me this gorgeous book, which I fully enjoy and appreciate. Thanks again, Lindsay! ♥