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Exhibit Looks at Balenciaga's Legacy

Exhibit Looks at Balenciaga's Legacy

As she prepared to donate some of her beloved Balenciaga gowns for an exhibit on the Spanish designer's work, Claudia Heard de Osborne wrote that her tears flowed while packing the creations.
Her dresses are part of a new exhibit showcasing 70 works by Balenciaga. It's the first major U.S. exhibition of his work in more than 20 years.
The exhibit, called "Balenciaga and His Legacy: Haute Couture From the Texas Fashion Collection," showcases creations from Balenciaga from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s, and runs from Feb. 4 through May 27 at the Meadows Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University.
"He left us this legacy of perfection and attention to detail," said Myra Walker, guest curator of the show and director of the Texas Fashion Collection, which supplied most of the outfits for the exhibition. "He could do everyday suits and he could do absolute, complete fantasy confection."
"He understood structure and he understood tailoring," said Edward Mattil, former chairman of the art department at the University of North Texas, where the Texas Fashion Collection has been housed since 1972. "The craftsmanship that Balenciaga gowns had _ it's virtually a dying art."
The exhibit will also show how Balenciaga, who died in 1972 at the age of 77, influenced others by displaying 20 works of designers including Hubert de Givenchy and Oscar de la Renta.
Balenciaga established his first couture house in 1919 in Spain and then eventually established the House of Balenciaga in Paris in 1937. He presented his last collection in 1968. The house continues today under the direction of Nicolas Ghesquiere.
The influence of Spanish culture can be seen in certain Balenciaga design elements, such as the use of boleros and black lace, said Mark Roglan, director of the Meadows Museum, which has a collection of Spanish art including works by El Greco, Diego Velazquez and Francisco de Goya.
Lawrence Marcus, son of one of the founders of Neiman Marcus, remembers going to Balenciaga's shows in the 1950s in Paris. Marcus, who was in charge of ladies apparel for the store at the time, said that Balenciaga's shows helped him predict upcoming fashions.
"Balenciaga is really one of the greatest designers of the 20th century," said Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. "He was so far ahead of his time and he continues to influence designers today."
Macarena Osborne, Claudia Heard de Osborne's daughter, said that glancing at pictures from the collection reminded her of the masterpieces that her mother, who died in 1988, would wear to events such as dinner parties, balls, concerts and even bullfights. Her mother was not just a client, but also a friend of Balenciaga, said Macarena Osborne, who lives in the south of Spain. "He was a grand man _ very educated, very refined, a very nice person," she said.
In a book by Walker for the exhibition, she writes that de Osborne even had Balenciaga design maternity clothes when she was pregnant with her daughter.
Mattil said that he first met de Osborne in the mid-1970s, when she began donating some of her clothes to the collection.
"She was awfully nice to me," said Mattil. "For a little girl that came out of the southern part of Texas, she sure fit in well with the high society. I don't think she'd ever step out of her hotel room or suites without looking immaculate."
Walker's book contains an excerpt of a letter from de Osborne to Mattil in which she recounts the difficulty she had parting with her dresses: "If you see any little drops of water on the dresses, they are my tears. I cried as I packed, as I loved each and every dress, coat, and cape."
Fashion buyer Bert de Winter, another woman whose Balenciagas figure prominently in the exhibit, began work at Neiman Marcus in the early 1950s. She died in 1972.
"She had a good eye for the subtleties of the new fashions," Marcus said.
Steele said that the collection being shown in Dallas is unusual in that curators know the provenance of the dresses.
"It's a fantastic, brilliant collection," said Steele, who added that one of de Osborne's gowns, a black velvet evening gown with a bustle trimmed in ermine, particularly caught her attention. "They are absolutely stunning works of art."
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On the Net:
http://www.meadowsmuseumdallas.org
http://www.tfc.edu


Updated : 2021-07-24 01:27 GMT+08:00