Balenciaga: Spanish Master

Balenciaga Evening Ensemble, 1967, Balenciaga Archives, Paris

Hopefully you have had a chance to visit the Balenciaga: Spanish Master exhibition, on view at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute. The exhibition is the first to present Balenciaga’s masterpieces within the context of the cultural and artistic influences of his native country.

I had the privilege to contribute research to this gorgeous show, which was curated by Hamish Bowles. As many of you already know, research for fashion exhibitions involves, among other things, flipping through endless magazines, cover to cover. Molly Sorkin and Jennifer Park, the research associates for Balenciaga: Spanish Master, enlisted interns to assist with this seemingly endless task.

Along with several other researchers, I was charged with paging through Harper’s Bazaar: every issue from 1937 (the year Maison Balenciaga opened in Paris) to 1972 (when the famed couturier passed away). We were asked to scan and submit any editorials that featured a Balenciaga garment, mentioned the renowned designer, or referenced Spain or Spanish culture. Press coverage in this magazine was particularly comprehensive as one of Balenciaga’s earliest and most devoted champions, Carmel Snow, was editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar from 1933-57.

I only contributed a small amount of work to this exhibition, but it was an incredible learning experience. In a way, the process was strangely abstract: one minute you’re alone in the periodicals of the library, and the next the show is a reality. In this case the reality is breathtaking, so, if you haven’t seen it, you have a few more days! Hurry, Balenciaga: Spanish Master closes on February 19th.

Exhibition Information:
Gallery Hours: Mon. – Tues.: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. ; Wed.-Fri.: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. ; Sat.: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Admission: $15 for adults; $10 for students, seniors, and Institute members.
Queen Sofia Spanish Institute
684 Park Avenue (between East 68th and 69th)
New York, NY 10065

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