Balenciaga in Black
September 24, 2022 - March 5, 2023
Kunstmuseum Den Haag:
Stadhouderslaan 41, 2517 HV Den Haag, Netherlands

Cristobal Balenciaga’s complex, sculptural pieces always worked best in black, which a new exhibition of more than 100 masterpieces and prototypes from the collections of Palais Galliera and Maison Balenciaga are showing at Kunstmuseum Den Haag to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Spanish couturier’s death. Black turned out to be an ideal color to display le maître’s artistry because removing color from the equation allowed the exquisite details of his pieces—whether a tailored suit, a dazzling evening gown, or a voluminous baby doll dress—to reveal their masterful execution. 

“When he had the fabric in front of him, he knew what sort of black he wanted to bring out with the material,” Gaspard de Massé from the Balenciaga Archives in Paris told BBC. “Sometimes it’s like you’re diving in the black, especially for velvet. Sometimes it’s so deep, you go in and you discover something new.” The legacy of experimentation is being upheld today by current creative director Demna Gvasalia, who notably swathed Kim Kardashian face to feet in black fabric at last year’s Met Gala to exploit the color’s contouring qualities.

(Pictured: Stella Oakes in Cristóbal Balenciaga (1951). Photography by Henry Clarke/Galliera/Roger-Viollet)

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