Balenciaga in Black

Exhibition Website

Oct 7 2018 - Jan 6 2019

Kimbell Art Museum

Fort Worth, TX


Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895–1972) is often called “the couturier’s couturier”—the fashion designer revered by all other fashion designers. From his first runway collection, in 1937, through the closure of his Paris salon, in 1968, Balenciaga’s clients were among the most influential trendsetters of the day.  Balenciaga in Black, an exhibition of more than one hundred pieces from the collections of the Galliera and the archives of the Maison Balenciaga. 

The carefully selected costumes and accessories, all made by hand in the haute-couture ateliers of this fashion genius, share one major feature: they are all black. For Balenciaga, black was vibrant, capable of exhibiting a dazzling interplay of light through luxurious fabrics and materials. This exhibition reveals the masterful shapes created by the artist with apparently simple cuts and impeccably composed adornments of lace, embroidery, silk, fringes, beads, and sequins. These expertly executed, timeless silhouettes continue to inspire modern fashion.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.         
Image: Cristóbal Balenciaga, Sleeveless dress and jacket, detail Winter 1965. Gore and flounces in mechanical silk lace. Satin ribbon belt. Horsehair lace ribbon. Dress lining in silk pongee with crêpe de chine edging Palais Galliera, Fashion Museum of the City of Paris, Paris Musées Photo © Julien Vidal/Galliera/Roger-Viollet
Image: Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1927. Photo by Lipnitzki / Roger Viollet / Getty Images

Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog,  Balenciaga in Black, explores the creative genius of Cristóbal Balenciaga. Black served as inspiration and guiding principal for the legendary dressmaker and provided a rich canvas for this extraordinary technician, allowing him to develop new textures and innovative shapes. Pierre Even's photography of Balenciaga's masterworks, produced specifically for this catalog, capture these subtle gradations in tone and lush details with contemporary precision. Fifty pieces from the Galliera Collection and the Balenciaga archives, including daywear, cocktail dresses or evening ensembles, lined in silk taffeta, fringed with satin ribbons, jet pearls, sequins, are revealed as never before. These contemporary photographs are presented alongside historical portfolios by legendary fashion photographers Richard Avedon, Henry Clarke, and Irving Penn to form three distinct sections: Balenciaga's volumes, interplay of black and light, and combinations of black with subtle colors. Balenciaga's specific materials and shapes are further illuminated by texts, sketches, and detailed captions.

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  • Costume
  • European
  • 20th Century
  • Design
  • Cristóbal Balenciaga

Exhibition Venues & Dates