Balenciaga: Spanish Master

Hamish Bowles and Oscar de la Renta's Ode to the Fashion Icon

Opening today at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York, Balenciaga: Spanish Master examines the influence of Spanish culture on the late, great couturier. Conceived by designer Oscar de la Renta and curated by Vogue’s European Editor at Large and vintage couture authority, Hamish Bowles, the spectacular show examines how Cristóbal Balenciaga was influenced by Spanish royal court––and regional––dress, religious ceremony, dance, art, and bullfighting. Drawing from museums and private collections worldwide, Bowles also delved into his own treasure trove to select key pieces, including a 1939 black Ottoman evening coat reminiscent of a priest’s cassock; a 1946 garnet velvet matador bolero embroidered with jet; and a 1962 dress with a black lace bodice and ivory gazar skirt that brings to mind a figure painted by Goya. “It was always a key idea of De la Renta’s to have those pieces,” explains Bowles. “They represent the designer’s pure vision before the clients have stepped in and staged their own interventions.” François-Henri Pinault, the brand's owner, and current Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière also granted unprecedented access to the company’s extensive archives, from sketches and photographs to iconic runway samples.

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