VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM AND BALENCIAGA EXHIBITION: SHAPING FASHION

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During the weekend, a friend and I visited the well known Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, located in the fancy part of West London. The Victoria and Albert Museum (also called the V & A) was established in 1852 and is named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.Today, the V & A is one of the world´s largest museums of decorative arts and design and nonetheless, it is the home of over 4.5 million objects from all over the globe. You can spot pieces such as textiles, jewellery, costumes, ironwork, prints to ceramics and glass from various centuries and cultures – from Europe, Asia to North America and North Africa.

We wanted to spend our Saturday afternoon exploring the V & A and were especially curious to see the acclaimed Balenciaga exhibition entitled Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. 

The exhibition was divided into two levels with various sections; it started with a brief biography about Cristóbal Balenciaga; who he was and how he gained his interest in fashion. Balenciaga’s´ most exclusive and eye-catching haute couture dresses and hats were worn by the créme de la créme fashionistas during 50´s and 60´s and these were displayed in glass framing through the entire venue. Many of these creations are so elegant and timeless so they continue to be a major inspiration source for many current designers, which was the main focus of the exhibition’s second level. Designers such as JW Anderson, Calvin Klein and Rick Owens find their influences among Balenciaga´s designs.

The highlight of the exhibition was the Silk taffeta evening dress, an X-ray photograph of this dress that was designed in 1955 and the black ‘envelope’ dress. Even though it was magnificent to witness one of the worlds most famous fashion houses and his most well known designs, the actual size and interior of the exhibition were rather disappointing and, to be frank, not really worth the money spent.


I cannot resist comparing it to Alexander McQueen´s exhibition called Savage Beauty back in 2015, as both were located at the V & A and the differences are striking. I loved that every room in the Alexander McQueen´s exhibition was beautifully displayed with an excellent attention to details. All collections McQueen designed until his death in 2010 was showcased on mannequins and to bring his vision to life, relevant elements such as interior, audio recordings and props were displayed to enhance the fully immersive experience for the visitors, which was jaw dropping. I truly wanted to stay at the McQueen´s exhibition as long as possible to really admire the collections and the interior in every room. The Savage Beauty exhibition was so impressive; I will cherish it as a beautiful memory – this feeling of excitement, unfortunately, was something I didn’t feel during Balenciaga´s exhibition.

I believe it was something that went wrong with this exhibition – it just felt predictable as the spectacular anticipation was just missing. Each and every item designed by Balenciaga was truly outstanding to witness however the  “out of the box” mindset to create an extravagant fashion exhibition was missing. I dislike the way the items were showcased to the public, it just felt passé and out of date.