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Alaïa and Balenciaga. Sculptors of shape

Start Date 01 May 2021
End Date 01 December 2021
Venue Cristobal Balenciaga Museoa
Location Getaria, Spain
Curator Olivier Saillard
Designer Gaël Mamine
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins

The exhibition “Alaïa and Balenciaga. Sculptors of shape”, which houses the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum, coinciding with its tenth anniversary, presents 100 works by both creators -Azzedine Alaïa (1935-2017) and Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972)- belonging to the collections of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation in Paris.

“Balenciaga had a knowledge of the trade, the cut, he knew how to sew… he was a true creator of fashion, capable of inventing a new volume, a new technique for the sleeves or the neckline. Balenciaga has always influenced me. Without a doubt, he is one of the best dressmakers of all time ”. Azzedine Alaïa

From the moment in which the last collection of the House is presented in 1968 and the activity of the salons and workshops ends, Cristóbal Balenciaga’s creations begin to transcend their material value as fashion clothing, by definition, ephemeral, to become A collector’s item and last over time. Since 1970, successive exhibitions began to be organized around the world and outside the private domain of former clients and expert collectors, Balenciaga’s works began to be perceived as a public good.

One of these pioneering collectors was Azzedine Alaïa, who over almost four decades has built an impressive archive. He himself recounts how he began by acquiring at the closing of the House an important number of pieces, almost on balance; garments that he wanted to rescue from an uncertain destiny. But later he continued to collect and accumulate more and more works, not only by Balenciaga, but also by other great masters such as Grès, Vionnet or Schiaperelli. Garments whose importance he especially valued, and which he believed should be preserved and transcended from his time.

For Azzedine Alaïa, Cristóbal Balenciaga was “the most loved, the most appreciated”. Both shared a perfect balance of measurements and volumes. From their hands and work tables, the dresses were born from the determination and mastery of the technique that the two dressmakers masterfully handled. In the history of fashion, these two great silent figures, immune to the effects of trends, have had a great deal to say to one another.

Their designs dialogue, in the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum in Getaria, showing a surprising number of shared elements. His creations are true examples of architecture, reminding us of how unique the two couturiers were in their time, and how timeless their legacy was today.

The exhibition, curated by Olivier Saillard and Gaël Mamine, is organized by the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation in collaboration with the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum. The project is undertaken by both institutions in memory of Hubert de Givenchy, the original promoter of this idea.

Images courtesy of Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa