Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion Exhibition

The first UK exhibition to explore the work and legacy of the Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. The Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition showcases over 100 garments and hats crafted by Balenciaga, his protégés and contemporary designers working in the same innovative way today.

Green Dress
Evening Dress and Cape – Silk gazar. Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1961

Split into two sections the exhibition looks at the later stage of Balenciaga’s career, focusing on Balenciaga’s work during the 1950s and 60s,  the second section examines his undoubtable influence on contemporary designers. There are Sketches, patterns, fabric samples, photographs and catwalk footage revealing Balenciaga’s uncompromising and relentless creativity. There are a number of Balenciaga’s timeless shapes on display, including the tunic, the sack, “baby doll” and shift dress.

Black Babydoll Dress
Cocktail ‘Baby doll’ dress – Crêpe de chine. Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1958

Through a series of X-rays, created by artist Nick Veasey, the V&A shows us the intricate nature of the hidden construction of a Balenciaga garment.

X-Ray & Dress
Evening Dress – Silk gazar (X-Ray in background) Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1965

Other show highlights include creations by Balenciaga for Hollywood actress Ava Gardner, dresses and shoes by wealthy businessman’s wife Elizabeth Parke Firestone, dresses and hats from socialite and 60s fashion icon Gloria Guinness, and pieces worn by Mona von Bismarck, one of the world’s wealthiest women,  she commissioned everything from ball-gowns to gardening shorts.

Feathered Sleeved White Overcoat
Evening Coat – Net and ostrich feathers, lined with silk organza (Owned by Ava Gardner). Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1964

Those who trained with Balenciaga have garments also on display in the exhibition, pieces by Paco Rabanne, André Courrèges and Emanuel Ungaro are included.

Paco Rabanne Dress
Evening mini-dress – Plastic paillettes and metal wire. Paco Rabanne, 1967

Initiated in the 1970s by the photographer Cecil Beaton, Balenciaga’s longstanding friend the V&A has the largest collection of Balenciaga in the UK. The exhibition marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house in San Sebastian, Spain, and the 80th anniversary of the opening of his famous fashion house in Paris.

Red Dress
Evening dress – Silk taffeta. Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1954

The exhibition is truly a sheer delight for fashion enthusiasts, especially for reminding us of the originality of the designs at the height of Balenciaga’s career. A very enjoyable glimpse at his work and enduring legacy. 


On now until Sunday, 18 February 2018



Daily: 10.00 – 17.30

Last entry 16.15

Friday: 10.00 – 21.30

Last entry 20.15


Room 40


Tickets cost £12.00

Concessions apply.
Advance booking is recommended.

Exhibitions are free for Members

Members do not need to book.








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