Alaïa & Balenciaga: reunited in a Parisian exhibition

Feel the Parisian touch

Just take a deep breath and close your eyes. When you will open them, you will be in Paris. In the fashion capital of the world, every person has their own story to tell. There might not be a lot of skyscrapers in this city of 2.1 million inhabitants, but all the beautiful Haussmannian apartments will make you fall in love with architecture. Well, now, you’ll discover another type of architecture: the fashion architecture. Structured dresses, monochrome creations, the yin and the yang, the black, the white, the pure, the evil, all made by two legendary designers Azzedine Alaïa and Balenciaga.

Located in Le Marais, in a fancy, yet young and popular arrondissement, this exhibition will transport you in another dimension where everything is black and white, where women dresses are powerful. If you can’t travel to the city of lights, I will take you on a journey to discover what is hidden behind those two designers, reunited for an exhibition called “Alaïa et Balenciaga, Sculpteurs de la forme”.

A complicated road for both designers

It is the first time that Alaïa and Balenciaga, two not-so-different designers, are combined together in an exhibition in Paris. After a couple of seconds inside the exhibition, we immediately capture the essence that the designers wanted to show us. The long leather dresses and black pearls vests are setting the mood of the whole collection: grandiose. Displayed in a white environment, 80 models are here to show that inspiration is a great point of start. Indeed, in 1968, Balenciaga announced that he is closing his Maison because ready-to-wear was not a real success for him. That is to say, he decided to sell, give and throw away his creations, but Azzedine Alaïa decided to get them, and that is the best decision he could have ever done. Those creations will become a real inspiration for the designer. Their will become very similar and will melt together to create a unique collection with a very sober style. 

The Balenciaga house finally reopened in ’86, 14 years after Balenciaga’s death. Nicholas Ghesquière took over and put Balenciaga on the map again. He notably created the  it-bag, the Lariat. If today the house Balenciaga has Demna Gvasalia as Artistic Director, it was a long road for the Balenciaga House to be where it is right now. 

Walking through the exhibition, your eyes are immediately caught by the black creations, since the lights and the path are displayed in a way that your eyes are focusing only on four to six creations at a time, and the numerous details on them. You get lost between Alaïa‘s inspiration and Balenciaga‘s vision, enclosed in this labyrinth as if you are part of the exhibition. As you get lost in it, you can admire their fascination for cutting and perforation. Even if their works were done years apart you can find similitudes in it, as if they were reading in each other’s mind. The woman from the 50s has been reinvented with a new vision for her, with new forms and aspects.  

In a perfect balance between measures and volume, the Spanish and the Tunisian creators found themselves. In the architecture of the suits and coats, they discussed the subject of the invisible  sewing. Lace and flounces, the lightness of their long and short dresses, bustier dresses and bolero tops. It is such as a ping-pong game between the two most important names of the fashion history. “Balenciaga gave the world fashion. He was the beginning of everything, everything that is news – forever,” said the legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland.

Find creativity in tiny details

All kinds of dresses are presented in this exhibition, from sheath dresses to coat dresses, by way of drop waist You can also catch sight of the well-known little black dress, perfectly represented in very different forms: adjusted or just strapless. And why wearing a large cropped jacket and a high waist skirt when you can have the best of both worlds?

A lot of pearls are embroidered, the dresses are draped, they do not hide the coutures anymore but transform them into a real fashion effect. Some timeless pieces such as costume jackets are also part of the voyage. Explore the Spanish folklore with some colors standing out. The “Gitanedress is the perfect definition of Alïa’s style created in 1944 for the Spring-Summer collection.

A new woman is waking up

Colors are not popping, Pants are not showing, forget about tulle, denim, linen and more, there is only pure femininity with a touch of audacity. The woman stays sober, but shows her power trough her clothes. Timeless coats and jacket made in the 40s and 80s are still in vogue today, as if Balenciaga and Alaïa have found the eternal sober style. Two monuments of couture are now making just one, just the time of a second.

At the end of your journey, you’ll be able to discover a beautiful boutique, right next to the exhibition, where you can find beautiful fashion books. If the heart tells you, you can take a sip of coffee to feel the Parisian touch.

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