Black Balenciaga Musée Bourdelle, paris

Encountering Balenciaga creations amongst the stunning sculptures of the Musée Bourdelle presents the late Spanish creator as a sculptor of fabrics.

Despite being "living objects", statuesque columnar dresses look frozen in time and devoid of movement in their face-to-face with the energy projected by inanimate Bourdelle's sculptures.

With coat creations, it's all about slightly shortened sleeves and open necks to reveal touches of sensuality and femininity without breaking the structure of lines.

On an early cocktail dress from 1954, textural effects build volumes without ever clinging to the female body.

With his apparent Spanish heritage, Balenciaga plays black on black, using the varying degree of light absorption of his materials as a palette to model forms and volumes. Quite an achievement when black is reputedly difficult to manipulate due to its flatness.

Ruffles are voluminous yet incredibly light thanks to new materials like gazar and zagar, specially crafted for Balenciaga's Haute Couture. The point is to highlight the body, never to overload it.

Balenciaga builds volume using fabrics of different malleability and weight (unlike regular sculpture where it's all about removal of mass).

Surface effects of fabrics engage a dialogue with the patina variations of the Bourdelle statues around. A beautiful muse-en-scène.

Couture creation becomes sculpture in an almost abstracted way.

A truncated cone with two jewelled shoulder straps. Simple. Elegant. Unforgettable. Balenciaga.

Combining textures, playing with opacity and transparency, monochromatic permutations are surprisingly endless.

Until a touch of color appears, only in pink or white. Adding luxury with restraint, time is defeated.

All these Little Black Dresses date from between 1947 and 1967. I don't know about you but I would love to wear any of these today!

I think Bourdelle's Penelope agrees...

© 2017 Ingrid Westlake

All pictures by Ingrid Westlake, unless otherwise stated.

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Ingrid Westlake
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© 2017 Ingrid Westlake All pictures by Ingrid Westlake, unless otherwise stated.

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