A History Of Balenciaga Through The Lens.
Music by: Die Arkitekt – Julian.
It’s CULTED and welcome to a new episode of our HISTORY BLAST series.
Today we’re running-through the history of Balenciaga and its most memorable campaigns, from when the house was first founded, to today’s dystopian Gvasalia world.
Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his first boutique in 1919 and even though the designer never had the personal profile of Coco Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent, he’s left a legacy for young talent around the world.
In 1937, Balenciaga presented his first haute couture collection at his Paris salon and history was made. The crepe dress featured was shot for a 1937 Vogue shoot.
Balenciaga’s early designs were so timeless and unique that many have been tributed and reinterpreted by artistic directors of more recent years. This gown by Cristóbal first appeared in the 1954 October issue of Vogue and Demna Gvasalia sent an almost identical look down the runway for the house’s AW17 collection.
In ‘67, Balenciaga famously debuted his wedding dress and hat, which was later reimagined in 2008 by Nicolas Ghesquière and the original was also featured in the MET’s 2018 Heavenly Bodies exhibition. 1967, also brought us this breathtaking Balenciaga ‘envelope’ dress combining opulence, art and ambition.
However, the following year, in 1968, Cristóbal Balenciaga decided to close his fashion house and sadly 4 years later he passed away.
The house reopened in ‘86 but was on the sidelines of fashion until 1997 when Nicholas Ghesquière took over. Aged just 25, Ghesquière’s debut collection put the young designer on the fashion map. In the 90s he created it-girls of those who chose to wear his designs, as well as the it-bag, the Lariat.
But despite creating ‘it girl’ dresses, Ghesquière’s campaigns had an element of futurism and dystopia, shown in this Balenciaga campaign shot by Mark Alesky for SS98, and this from the following season by Inez and Vinoodh.
In the early 2000’s Ghesquière began his close relationship with David Sims and the pair produced some great campaigns together, such as this from SS 2003. Some of the pairs stand out campaigns include AW03, AW04 and SS07, which all feature the much talked about gold plate and metal look pants.
Nicolas’ collaborations with Steven Meisel also gave life to some astonishing campaigns. AW10 was a stand-out, as well as the futuristic Hamptons vibe of AW12.
Then in 2013 Alexander Wang took over but only for a brief 6 season stint. Many say Wang felt pressured by the brand to play it safe and his debut campaign for the house, which starred a faceless Kristen McMenamy, exemplifies this.
Demna Gvasalia took the reins in 2015 and turned the house upside down. He has continued to respect its long standing values and Cristóbal’s aesthetic. However, at the same time he has made Balenciaga a CULT favourite. How? Well, by using fashion to comment on politics, social issues and an apocalyptic world, all in an ironic tone.
Denma’s debut campaign shocked the fashion world as he brought puffer jackets and bold lettering into luxury. In 2018 his paparazzi campaign went viral and we can all remember the brilliant yet confusing SS19 campaign.
We’ll end with Balenciaga’s most recent campaign for SS20. The campaign was a thought-provoking comment on fake news, government propaganda and the ending of the world and we’re still kind of obsessed.
Balenciaga is definitely a power house to continue watching.
That’s all for this week’s episode guys. Be sure to tune in next Friday when we’ll be looking at more campaigns and the history behind them from some of the world’s most influential fashion houses.
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See also: BALENCIAGA REJOINS HAUTE COUTURE