Exhibition: Balenciaga Shaping Fashion.


One of my favourite things to do is to go around exhibitions; usually they are quite quiet, you can go round them at your own pace, and you learn something at the same time. (Perfect for someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome, right?)

The V&A is one of my favourite places in London; I love the diversity of the exhibits it has, as well as the fact that it has permanent galleries. (I love the glasswork, as it’s so pretty, complete with a glass staircase.)

I knew little about Balenciaga prior to looking at this exhibition; I felt really silly when I realised it was a man, and not a women! (I was familiar with the image on the left, but has thought it was the designer… whoops.) Needless to say, I loved seeing the actual garment.


I came away with much more of an understanding as to how much of a genius Balenciaga was. There were quotes everywhere about his influence on feminity. And get this: he had an obsession with sleeves! They had to be fitted properly to the person to ‘make’ the garment.


Although I must admit that I did find some of the outfits to be a bit, well, hideous; personally, I would not wear some of them. But there were some truly beautiful garments that the exhibit housed!

I also loved the anecdote that during the second world war, part of his business was forcefully shut down, due to being seen as encouraging extravagance, whilst there was war time austerity.


Does anyone think that this resembles something Jacqueline Kennedy would wear?

I was also fascinated about the part of the exhibit that detailed how the dresses were sometimes designed for private clients, and how part of the success of the business was owed to these often very rich clients.

Similarly, one of my favourite parts of the exhibit was when, at the end, it looks at the influence on new designers. (Ever heard of the ‘snake dress’?) But how tedious would it have been to hand paint the silk of these outfits? (Far left, below.)


There was also the Ava Gardiner coat, complete with full Ostrich feathers on the sleeves. (Beautiful, yet it looked so heavy!)



This was my favourite dress of all; I like how it shapes around the waist, and how the feathers add an exotic element to the bodice and all over. I also adore the colour-it would make any female feel better, I think!

As somebody with Aspergers Syndrome, I did find the amount of people in this exhibit at times to be a little bit overwhelming; we were packed in, and it grew increasingly hotter and hotter. If you do visit the V&A, bring headphones to block out some of the sensory noise. Oh, and a drink-something cold is advisable.

Untitled designClick here to buy tickets to the exhibit. 

2 thoughts on “Exhibition: Balenciaga Shaping Fashion.

  1. Thoroughly Modern Emily says:

    Oh my goodness, I’ve wanted to go to the V&A ever since I was a child and read about it in a book I had. (Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, in case you’re wondering.) I don’t know much about Balenciaga either, but I wholeheartedly agree with his philosophy on sleeves, and I’m LOVING that New Look/Jackie O dress!



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