These days, it's quite possible that Balenciaga is one of the most hyped luxury brands in today's fashion lexicon. Under the stewardship of Demna, the brand's Georgian creative director with a reputation for playing with high/low themes like no other and ruffling the feathers of both critics and consumers alike, he has been able to maintain the reputation of the House through tributes to the late Cristóbal Balenciaga, especially through his couture collections, but namely with the heavy, consistent use of black. Now, the Kunstmuseum Den Haag in the Netherlands is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s death with Balenciaga in Black, an all-new exhibition on display in the Netherlands.
The collection explores the late couturier’s almost obsessive use of black across 100 of some of his most prominent pieces, each provided by the Palais Galliera and Maison Balenciaga in Paris.
There is always something both enchanting and haunting about collections past in exhibition spaces, and the Balenciaga in Black exhibition seems no different, offering reflection and serenity through hazy lights which reveal Balenciaga's intricate and monumental designs which include archival tailoring, evening gowns, signature voluminous dresses, all in black to focus on details beyond colour.
Mr. Balenciaga's life and legacy was deeply intertwined with the colour black, which he used not only as a design choice, but as a point of connection with his Spanish identity, weaving it into almost every aspect of his practice, even in toiles which are featured in the exhibition. The display of pieces acts as a touchpoint to consider and examine fashion's most enduring colour across all of Balenciaga's interpretations of it throughout his practice.
His haute couture practice is reflected best within these pieces, the colour black being the couturier's most authentic expression of his creativity and fascination with creating sculptures for the body through an exacting precision, dedication to craftsmanship, and revolutionary silhouettes
Balenciaga in Black features over 60 garments, including hats, jewellery, drawings, film footage and photographs from the Maison Balenciaga archives.
“He used black more than any other designer, and he used it in a very different way. Black emphasized the geometry and sculptural quality of his bold designs, such as the balloon and the envelope, giving him the freedom to concentrate more on the form of the object," Madelief Hohé, the exhibition’s curator, highlighted in an interview with BBC Culture.
Balenciaga in Black is now available to visit until March 2023.