Fashion lovers rejoice! Two sure-to-be captivating exhibits are slated to open in New York City. The first, at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, will focus on the late Cristobal Balenciaga and opens on Friday, November 19th, while the second will take place at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and will pay tribute to the late Alexander McQueen with a 2011 exhibit at its Costume Institute. The former should be particularly eye-opening for those predominantly familiar with Nicolas Ghesquiere-designed Balenciaga and the brand’s ubiquitous motorcycle bag. The latter promises to deliver on “wow factor” by showcasing some of McQueen’s early work– not an easy feat given that the designer sold designs to friends to make money early in his career, keeping little, if any, record of the work.
Balenciaga: Spanish Master
Curated by Vogue’s European editor at large, Hamish Bowles, “Balenciaga: Spanish Master” is focused on not only tracing Balenciaga’s designs, but tying it into Spanish culture. The designer’s early work was greatly affected by politics; after opening his first boutiques in Spain and dressing the royal family, he was forced to close shop and move to Paris, due to the Spanish Civil War. He brought with him royal and Spanish Renaissance influences, as well as then never-before-seen silhouettes like kimono-style dresses.
The exhibit features 76 pieces from the Balenciaga archives in Paris, from private collections and the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan, and they’re divided into two galleries. The main gallery features garments “influenced by historic royal costumes, Spanish art, religious life and ceremony,” according to Bowles, while the lower gallery “showcases the more exuberant side of Spain that inspired Balenciaga, with regional design elements and costumes of the bullfight, as well as fishermen’s blouses from the Basque region.”
While the opening of the Balenciaga exhibit will no doubt be flashy (Oscar de la Renta will host a party for which Queen Sofía of Spain will inaugurate the exhibit), it’s unlikely to compete with the flash that will accompany the McQueen exhibit, which will be kicked-off by the Met’s annual Costume Institute Benefit gala in Spring 2011.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
Titled “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”, the exhibit will trace McQueen’s work from his days at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London to his final collection via 100 pieces and it will run from May 4th to July 31st. The exhibit is being spearheaded by Andrew Bolton (with the support of legendary Met curator Harold Koda), and he told WWD that rather than being organized chronologically, the exhibit will take a thematic approach to tie in McQueen's various inspirations.
When the exhibit is launched at the gala on May 2nd, François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek will serve as the evening’s honorary chairs, while Colin Firth, Stella McCartney, and Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour will co-chair.