Cristóbal Balenciaga holds a unique influence over modern day designers.
In fact, he has long been considered the “master” of haute couture.
Now, his works — from the designs and textiles all the way to some of his most famous dresses — are on display at Montreal’s McCord Museum.
The exhibition, Balenciaga, Master of Couture, highlights some of the designer’s expert craftsmanship.
“This exhibition delves into the techniques and actual making of how Cristóbal Balenciaga came to design his clothing,” explained Oriole Cullen, curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum of London (V&A), who organized the exhibition.
“It also looks at his legacy and why he’s so important to today’s designers.”
His connection to Montreal rings true — who knew there used to be a Balenciaga workroom in luxury retail store Holt Renfrew?
Until the late 1960s, several of the city’s largest department stores imported Balengiaca designs to show off to potential clients and his work was also featured in a Paris couture show during Expo 67.
“Holt Renfrew has a long-standing relationship with Balengiaca and with the McCord Museum,” said Normand Ciarlo, divisional vice-president and general manager of Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy.
“I am sure that you will love this exhibition. It has been an honour and a privilege for us to have known Balenciaga.”
The exhibition boasts nearly 80 dresses, as well as hats and accessories — including four garments worn by prominent Canadians.
Critics agree that Balenciaga, a pioneer and artist of 20th century fashion designers, has secured his legacy in the fashion world.
“The thing about Balenciaga is he was very modern in his approach. He was a minimalist and he was wonderful with shapes and volumes,” Cullen told Global News.
“He was always looking at the space around the body and always experimenting with cut around his design.”
Cullen note that many of Balenciaga regarded him in high esteem.
“Coco Chanel said, ‘He’s the only one of us who is a true designer in that he can design, cut a pattern and sew up the garment perfectly,'” she noted.
“Christian Dior said, ‘He is the master of us all.'”
Cullen points out Balenciaga remains one of the main influencers that modern-day designers look toward to inspire their work.
“We were really intrigued by that,” she said.
“So many of them come into our archives to look at his work.”
The exhibition runs at the McCord Museum in Montreal from June 15 to Oct. 14.