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Celebs Fete the Opening of 'Balenciaga and Spain' at SF's de Young Museum

Celebs Fete the Opening of 'Balenciaga and Spain' at SF's de Young Museum
(Drew Altizer)

Celebs Fete the Opening of 'Balenciaga and Spain' at SF's de Young Museum Balenciaga and Spain
Balenciaga and Spain, the much-anticipated exhibit curated by Vogue editor Hamish Bowles, is a must-see not only for fashion lovers, but for art aficionados as well. We previewed the exhibit, which opened at the de Young Museum on March 25, and it gave us goosebumps! There is an impressive range of pieces from Cristobal Balenciaga's storied career, including the iconic Chou wrap and cocoon coat.

The exhibit kicked off with a grand gala. Fashion notables including Anna Wintour, Miranda Kerr, Orlando Bloom and Gwyneth Paltrow made the trip westward to San Francisco for the magnificent affair. Everyone wore Balenciaga—of course—and they dined and danced the night away to the sounds of Spanish flamenco music.

Celebs Fete the Opening of 'Balenciaga and Spain' at SF's de Young Museum Vogue's European editor-at-large, Hamish Bowles, is the guest curator. Hamish, an avid collector of couture with over 2,000 pieces in his personal archive, has a personal connection to Balenciaga—the first designer piece he ever purchased was a suit by the Spanish master. Hamish worked tirelessly to acquire pieces from the Balenciaga archives, museums worldwide and personal collections. The exhibit was first presented in New York's Queen Sofia Spanish Institute as Balenciaga: Spanish Master. But Hamish felt the clothes needed a grander space, so he worked with the de Young Museum to bring an expanded exhibit to San Francisco.

One-hundred twenty Balenciaga dresses, hats and other garments are divided into six themes, each one characterizing a distinct period in Balenciaga's career. There are the deeply rooted Spanish and Basque influences in his flamenco and bull fighter period, the monastic shapes inspired by his stringent religious beliefs and of course the avant-garde abstractions he used later in his career. On top of the exquisite craftmanship and creativity—which is jaw-dropping, to say the least—one of the interesting things about the collection was seeing pieces where the influence Balenciaga had on his proteges was clearly evident. There were hints of Oscar de la Renta and Givenchy in more than one of the pieces.

Check out StyleBistro's exclusive video preview:

View Balenciaga and Spain at the de Young Museum in San Francisco from March 26 to July 4, 2011. For more info visit deYoung.famsf.org.
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