Xerjoff Magazine

Balenciaga, between art and fashion


The Spanish art and culture have always been an important reference for designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. Proof of that is the exhibition “Balenciaga and Spanish painting” now being held at National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.

Today there’s rightly a lot of talk about how the boundaries between disciplines tend to get thinner and thinner, to the point that they no longer exist.

However, this phenomenon has not started today, that is, it does not only affect the contemporary age. Proof of that is a beautiful exhibition held at National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid (Paseo del Prado, 8), which analyses the strong relationship between art and fashion that Balenciaga expressed through his work. The exhibition “Balenciaga and Spanish painting” analyses the close relationship between the garments created by Cristóbal Balenciaga and the tradition of the Spanish painting between 16th and 20th Century.

The 90 precious garments displayed in the exhibition further show this important link, being paired to over 50 important paintings by great Spanish masters such as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Madrazo etc, coming from private collections or from prestigious national museums like Museo del Prado and those in Seville,Valencia and Bilbao. In this charming game of cross-references we see the garments made for Fabiola, Queen of Belgium (1960) matched to the portraits of the clergy by Francisco Zurbarán (1628-1634), while the jet-black garments recall El Greco’s chiaroscuro effects. The red satin used by the designer in 1950s reminds instead of the accessories of the Duchess of Alba portrayed by Francisco de Goya (1795), while the meticulous manual work of the designer’s floral decorations pays homage to the garlands painted by Gabriel de la Corte (17th Century). Curated by Eloy Martínez de la Pera the exhibition will last until next 22nd September.

Above: (From left to right) Evening gown, taffeta, Cristòbal Balenciaga Meseoa, Getaria © Museo Cristòbal Balenciaga © Jon Cazenave.

Ignazio Zuloaga, Portrait of Maria del Rosario de Silva y Gurtubay, Duchess of Alba, 1921, Fundacion Casa de Alba. Palacio de Liria, Madrid