Kimbell Art Museum exhibition: Balenciaga In Black exhibit

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The Balenciaga in Black exhibit at the Kimbell Museum features over 100 pieces that share a common factor: they are all black.

This exhibit is on view from now until Jan 6, 2019. The collection includes garments from never-before-seen black prototypes to the most abstract forms from the designer’s later collections. It features pieces from the collections of the Palais Galliera, the City of Paris’s Museum of Fashion and from the Archives Balenciaga. The clothing featured in the exhibit was carefully selected and all handmade in the haute-couture studio of Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Madison Ladd, public relations coordinator at the Kimbell museum, explains why the museum chose to have this exhibit.

“The exhibition was originally organized and displayed in Paris by the Palais Galliera, which is the fashion museum of Paris Musees, and the Balenciaga Archives. The Kimbell is its only other venue,” said Ladd. “Four additional pieces were added from the Texas Fashion Collection at UNT, which were chosen by the Kimbell’s deputy director, George Shackelford.”

Balenciaga is the designer behind it all and is often known as “the couturier’s couturier.” He grew up in a small fishing town in Spain, where his mother taught him how to sew. This upbringing eventually led to him gain clients that were some of the most influential trendsetters of the day.

Jessica Bandrup, head of marketing and public relations at the Kimbell museum, explains Balenciaga’s design style.

“He created garments that were sophisticated and restrained, yet intricate and detailed–each impeccably tailored with the highest regard for every detail. He is also known as the ‘architect of designers,’” said Bandrup.

Every piece of clothing or accessory at the exhibit is black: this is because Balenciaga wanted people to see that he could manipulate black fabrics, lace and embroideries. He wanted to transform them into excellent pieces.

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Some of the Black pieces featured Photo credit: Nicole Puterman

Black was the color of choice for many reasons. Black is a very versatile color that can appear matte or shiny. It can be seen as more than a color or even a noncolor; it is used through the luxurious quality of the fabrics and continues through the simplicity of a garment’s cut. Also, he does not use just one shade of black, but multiple. The different shades emphasize the shapes, volumes and silhouettes of his designs.

The exhibit features multiple extraordinary pieces of clothing and accessories. Even though everything is black, one can see the detail and design that is on the garment. Some of the clothing features a pop of color. One dress, in particular, has white and brown ermine tails. There were even several dresses with pink satin around the waist.

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The dress with ermine tails Photo credit: Nicole Puterman

Pink seems to be one of Balenciaga’s favorite colors. It was one of the few colors he used when working with black. The color pink can provide a delicate or even a vibrant contrast with the black clothing.

A woman at the exhibit, Sierra Marker, said she enjoyed her first time seeing designer clothing in a museum.

“I went to this exhibit because Balenciaga is one of my favorite designers, and I was intrigued in learning more about him and the brand. I thought it was fascinating to see the ways that designs have changed over the years,” Marker said. “But you can tell that the same man was behind it all. This was my first time seeing fashion in a museum instead of a store, and it was very cool.”

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