It’s taken me a while to connect all the dots from my visit to London.
Busy city. Fashion metropole. Jam-packed city centre streets even on a drizzly sunday afternoon. The bustle. Of tourists on a monday. Constant.
Rising in crescendo in the Top Shop. Latest styles hot off the runways. Teen girls trying piles of clothes for the right thing. Twens popping in for a new blouse after work. Shoes piled high in the discount bin. Costume jewelry, handbags, all the things. But made where? And by whom?
Still thinking about structure and control, which brings me to the Victoria &Albert Museum’s Exhibition Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. It refers rather cleverly to the fact that Balenciaga was a designer who has had a lot of influence on other fashion designers (a designer’s designer, especially to those who are trying to be innovative within the field). It also refers to the fact that if you want to create 3-d shapes (ie garments) out of 2-d material, you jolly well need something to hold it up.
You need structure. And Balenciaga was a master tailor and couturier, who knew how to manipulate the fabric toaccomplish the most remarkable things with fabric.
“This evening dress – displayed inside out – shows the attention to detail in constructing a couture gown. The net bodice, structured with steel boning… Fabric edges are bound with silk tulle and hard fastenings covered in velvet for comfort…”
-Victoria & Albert Museum
In short, a fascinating exhibition with garments not just by Cristóbal Balenciaga, but also from several designers who came after him, and cited him as mentor or Inspiration.
It’s amusing to see that the flared sleeves and pleats that are among this year’s hottest trends, look as if they’re borrowed straight from his sketchbook.
Top row: Tulip dress, Wool tweed Skirt suit by Balenciaga
Bottom row: Evening dress by Balenciaga, Ballons Dress by Sybilla (Spain), Cocktail dress by Roksanda Ilincic
Back from our family holiday in South England. I’m still ruminating on what I’ve seen and experienced over the last two weeks.
I visited the Balenciaga exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum (more on that later), had a look at quite a few touristy things, ate a lot of Full English Breakfasts, visited botanical gardens, great houses, drank an impressive amount of tea (with and without scones) and noticed things.
Living out of a suitcase is more or less test-driving a capsule wardrobe.
Women in the UK wear more skirts and dresses (in general) than women in Germany.
Fast fashion means picking up a new blouse or three is as easy as picking up a pack of precut vegetables ready to be made into a soup, on the way home from work in a large metropole.
British food is loads better than it’s reputation on the Continent.