As the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London comes to a close next month, I’ve been reflecting on how this world-renowned designer has inspired me and other designers.
Lessons from Balenciaga
My trip to the exhibition reaffirmed for me the lessons of design which Balenciaga heralded:
1. Consider and experiment with a variety of fabrics before finalising your design
2. Research fabric thoroughly
3. Use the most appropriate tools for the job
4. Pay attention to the details
5. Enjoy experimenting with proportion and scale
6. If things don’t work out, re-evaluate, try and try again
7. Be patient
Experiment with fabrics
For me, the biggest inspiration has been to experiment with a variety of fabrics. Balenciaga let the fabric determine the most effective look for the overall design. His experimentation with fabric played a significant and pivotal part of the initial stages of designing a garment. He determined that design comes after the fabric is handled, with a lot of his work focused on draping.
It is fitting that there is such an abundance of incredible fabric swatches displayed at the exhibition. Balenciaga was known to have sourced fabrics from various countries, including the UK, Spain and France; despite being partially subsidised by the Spanish Government if he used local fabric suppliers. He seemed to enjoy the variety of interesting fabrics available worldwide and seeing the quantity and variety of fabrics on display was a feast for my eyes.
A fascinating aspect of the exhibition demonstrates how current designers, such as Molly Goddard and Gareth Pugh, are continually inspired by Balenciaga’s truly innovative and forward thinking approach to fashion design, when creating their own pieces.
For me personally, I always find that insights into his work, such as the ones given at this exhibition, give me inspirational guidelines that help me achieve the best possible results when I’m designing a garment.
I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition which runs until February 2018. What fashion designers inspire you?