Game Changers exhibition will celebrate Balenciaga's influence on 20th-century fashion

| Leave a comment
Categories:

An upcoming exhibition at Antwerp's Modemuseum examines how Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga changed the silhouette of women's clothing in the 20th century, and his influence on today's top fashion designers.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Cristóbal Balenciaga, Autumn Winter 1967. Photograph courtesy of the Balenciaga Archives

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette focuses on Balenciaga's work during the 1950s and 1960s, when he created unconventional silhouettes that diverged from the popular hourglass shape.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Cristóbal Balenciaga, Autumn Winter 1958. Photograph by Tom Kublin, courtesy of the Balenciaga Archives

His dramatically different designs gave the body more freedom of movement and created architectural volumes around their wearers.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Cristobal Balenciaga, Autumn Winter 1958. Photograph by Tom Kublin, courtesy of the Balenciaga Archives

Due to open at the Modemuseum (MoMu) in March, the exhibition will bring together 100 examples of couture and ready-to-wear garments by Balenciaga and the designers he influenced.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Iris Van Herpen, Micro, haute couture Spring Summer 2012. Photograph by Ronald Stoops

Balenciaga was born in 1895 in the Basque region of northern Spain, and opened his Paris couture house in 1937.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn Winter 1984. Photograph by Max Vadakul

He was among a selection of fashion designers that played with new silhouettes during the 20th century, such as Paul Poiret, Madeleine Vionnet and Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel.



"Haute Couture is like an orchestra, whose conductor is Balenciaga," French designer Christian Dior is quoted. "We other couturiers are the musicians and we follow the direction he gives."

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Comme des Garçons, Autumn Winter 2012. Photograph bu Mark Segal

After his death in 1972, Balenciaga's work went on to inspire a selection of fashion designers that are highly regarded today.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Comme des Garçons, Autumn Winter 2012. Photograph bu Mark Segal

These include Issey Miyake, Martin Margiela, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and Iris Van Herpen.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Comme des Garçons, Body meets Dress, Dress meets Body, Spring Summer 1997. Photograph by Yannis Vlamos

Clothing with innovative and unusual silhouettes by this group will be shown alongside vintage Balenciaga pieces as part of the exhibition.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Issey Miyake, 1990 to 2015. Photograph by Francis Giacobetti

As examples, brightly coloured garments from Comme des Garçons Autumn Winter 2012 collection appear to be cut out from flat sheets. Miyake has experimented with unusual shapes and folding techniques throughout his career, and more recently Van Herpen has used new materials and technologies to form her dramatic-looking clothes.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Issey Miyake, 1990 to 2015. Photograph by Francis Giacobetti

Game Changers will run from 18 March to 14 August 2016 at MoMu, located on Antwerp's Nationalestraat.

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th-Century Silhouette at MoMu Antwerp
Georgina Godley, Sport Couture, Autumn Winter 1990. Photograph by Georgina Godley

Other upcoming fashion exhibitions include a showcase dedicated to Issey Miyake at Tokyo's National Art Center and a presentation about technology's impact on clothing design at New York's Costume Institute. Both are among Dezeen's pick of the best exhibitions for 2016.