Cristobal Balenciaga: "His name became synonymous with perfection and elegance."
~ Baroness Pauline de Rothschild, 1973
On March 26, 2011, the Balenciaga and Spain will open at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The exhibition -- curated by Hamish Bowles, European editor at large of Vogue -- features 120 haute couture garments, hats and headdresses designed by Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972). The collection illustrates Balenciaga's expansive creative vision, which incorporated references to Spanish art -- with the iconic 1939 Infanta dress, a modernist interpretation of the dresses worn by the Infanta Margarita in Velazquez's celebrated portraits -- bullfighting, dance, regional costume and the pageantry of the royal court and religious ceremonies.
As legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland described him, "Balenciaga was the true son of a strong country filled with style, vibrant color and a fine history, "who" remained forever a Spaniard...
You can feel the pulse of Spain beat in every garment in Balenciaga and Spain. A dress ruffle and polka-dot patterns inspired by the flamenco dancers; sumptuous embroidery and embellishments that glitters on a bolero jacket worn by a matador; clean and simple lines that extrapolate the minimalist rhythms and volumes of the vestments of Spanish nuns and priests; a velvet-trimmed evening gown aesthetically indebted to the farthingale robe of a Velazquez Infanta.
Cecil Beaton hailed him as " Fashion's Picasso": "In his work Balenciaga shows the refinement of France and the strengh of Spain. He uses fabric like a sculptor working in marble."