Thought for a lifetime

Einstein made the very important observation that " Imagination is more important than knowledge ".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Balenciaga in San Francisco

On a gorgeous sunny Saturday in San Francisco my daughter Chrissie and I ventured out to the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park to view a Balenciaga exhibit. Cristobal Balenciaga was a designer from the early 20th century that was raised in Spain but, became a couture designer in Paris from the 1930s until he retired in late 1960s. The exhibit had 120 ( ! ) gowns that represented the entire span of his career. The garments were all fabulous and very inspired by his Spainish youth. During his career Balenciaga kept revisiting images that obviously captured his imagination such as bows, bubble hems, pom-poms, scooped out skirt fronts, boat necklines, pinked fabric edges, collar details in the back, etc. etc.
The exhibit was a joy to walk through with giant art work reproductions of Velasquez and Goya and bullfights and photos of fisher women that probably influenced Balenciaga's designs. From a technical perspective the garments were inspirational and from a purely visual experience the garments were stunning. The exhibit had my imagination and awe on overdrive and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

There were 120 garments to be awed by at the exhibit. Balenciaga only designed dresses for a few decades ( late 1930s to late 1960s ) but what I enjoyed about the exhibit was how Balenciaga kept revisiting style lines and ideas that captured his imagination. Most prominent was the scooped front and the boat neck neckline. Also, bunching up the skirt bottom which was supposedly copying fisherman wives tucking the skirts into the waistband. Balenciaga exaggerated silhouettes and hid surprises. It is hard to accurately describe the obvious recurring themes in the garments but, they were very noticeable. It seemed Balenciaga kept working on a concept until he got it perfect-and he did get it perfect. Some of the gowns were absolutely breathtaking in their beauty and simplicity. The last striking feature was the modernity of the pieces. Over and over my 19 year old daughter and I were exclaiming " I'd wear that ! "

The exhibit had the lights dimmed so that the textiles of the garments would not be damaged, however that also made it impossible to sneak a good non-flash picture when the guards weren't looking. I can never resist snapping a few furtive photos because my memory is terrible!! Also, the catalog of the show did not capture the spirit of the exhibit AT ALL and did not even have good photos of the garments. The catalogue was so bad that I actually asked if there were copyright concerns that prohibited photos of each garment. The museum cashier looked at me like I was nuts but, I was disappointed that the catalog was so lacking so I did not purchase it. Next month Threads magazine is doing an article on Balenciaga so I'm hoping that will illuminate some of the more intriguing construction details of this amazing fabric artist. The exhibit was truly inspiring and I highly recommend it to all fashionistas.

After the exhibit Chrissie and I drove to Haight Ashbury where once again I totally scored with a great parking place for the vehicle beast ( Ford Excursion ) and we enjoyed a delicious lunch together in a window seat with GREAT people watching. Metered parking was 25 cents for like 10 minutes so we didn't stay long. But, I enjoyed every minute of my beautiful day with my beautiful daughter. Life is good :)