balenciaga PH. STÉPHANE AÏT OUARAB
On the occasion of a second new showing, the exhibition “Alaïa/Balenciaga” invites visitors to come and discover a number of new coats, suits and dresses, both for day and evening, whose shapes and architecture unite the two masters. These new pieces are selected from the Foundation’s collections.
Conceived in two successive chapters, the exhibition proposed a first face-to-face between the Spanish couturier and his Tunisian counterpart. Both designers were focused on cut, which has always directed the great history of fashion, and the dresses, veritable examples of precise architecture, were shown completely in black in the first chapter of the exhibition. Now it is in color that the visitor will be able to discover other points of view. The radiant pink of Balenciaga dialogues with the intense red so dear to Alaïa. Essential themes from the two couturiers work, precisely gypsy and Spanish folklore, are expressed in white lace by one and in perforated leather by the other. The “Gitane” dress, famous amongst Alaïa’s creations, will be exhibited for the first time in the Foundation’s gallery. Both just as skilled in tailoring as in soft dressmaking, Alaïa and Balenciaga, through the works presented, confirm their great mastery in all aspects of technique and cut. Other new dresses, in chiffon and black lace, lighter than delicate handkerchiefs, will also be on view to visitors for the first time. Elsewhere in the exhibition, the coats and jackets, examples of observed rigor, remind us of how very unique the two couturiers were in their time and still continue to be so timeless today.
In the poetic scenography, imagined by Kris Ruhs, the iconic designs will be presented along new paths, while other new designs come to join them, and some disappear completely to create as a whole a completely new exhibition to discover.
Having reopened since the first day after the lockdown ended, the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation would like to express its sincere thanks to all the visitors who, in coming to see and re-see the exhibition presented in the gallery, have expressed their confidence in the Foundation, a project that represented Azzedine Alaïa’s dearest wish.
The second showing of the works also coincides with the publication of an original catalogue. An analysis of the works of Alaïa and Balenciaga are featured in the summary as well as more historical texts concerning the lives and career paths of the two great couturiers. Signed Miren Arzalluz, Laurence Benaïm, Gaspard de Massé and Olivier Saillard, these texts accompany the many photographs of the garments exhibited.
All the garments exhibited, over half of which have never been shown before, are selected from the historical fashion collections of the Foundation. The works by Alaïa have been patiently and painstakingly protected by the couturier. The works by Balenciaga have been acquired since 1968, and were reunited by the passion that Alaïa harbored towards the most elevated examples of fashion’s past. These historical works, some of which are truly exceptional and worthy of the most important collections of the world’s fashion and costume museums, are part of a vast ensemble of haute couture garments, including works by such great names as Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet, Christian Dior, Charles James, Madame Grès and of course Balenciaga, as well as a great many contemporary designers.
Since Monsieur Alaïa’s passing, the Foundation aims to preserve this fragile and unique heritage and to present it to the public through original exhibitions where perspectives and analyses of the rare techniques used in the different domains of fashion are always prominent.
These exhibitions, shown precisely in the space where the couturier would present his rare runway shows, then travel around the world, taking on many a diverse intineraries, while highlighting the unique work of Azzedine Alaïa.