Disney+ series portrays the life of Cristóbal Balenciaga; creator of the Balenciaga brand – El Sol de México

The life and work of Cristobal Balenciaga are currently explored in a six-part Spanish biographical drama in Disney+. The series details the story of the man who became known as “the maestro.” of haute couture fashion for his innovative women’s clothing designs and his distinctive use of textiles during his years in Paris, from 1937 to 1968.

The new series of disney is starring Alberto San Juan as Balenciaga and is structured around the designer who recalls the events of his life and career during a rare interview in 1971 with the fashion editor of the Times, Prudence Glynn (Gemma Whelan).

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Fashion for a post-war world

Born in a small fishing town on the north coast of Spain to late nineteenth century, Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972) became one of the most innovative fashion designers and influencers of the 20th century, and the king of fashion in Paris.

His dedication to the craft of making and the tailor shop She was fostered by her seamstress mother and recognized by the local Spanish aristocracy who recognized her talent. The patronage of a marchioness led him to learn tailoring in San Sebastiánwhere he opened his first clothing business in 1919, at the age of 24, and later a workshop in Madrid.

Her impeccable cutting and exceptional skills in cutting, assembling, constructing and sewing garments by hand would earn her an exceptionally respected position within the world of haute couture. Pariswhere he opened his house in 1937.

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“Christian Dior referred to Balenciaga as ‘the master of us all’ and the Spaniard was admired for his technical genius and innovation by critics, clients, employees and haute couture colleagues”

Who was Cristóbal Balenciaga

We know Balenciaga in 1937a year after accepting the coveted elite status of “modestist,” conferred by the exacting standards of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.

His skills as tailor and Dressmakeras well as their Innovative designswere crucial to the success and lasting impact of mid-20th century couture, a fact that is carefully portrayed in the series.

While artistic license embellishes the intimate and emotional moments of the series, it is generally historically accurate, including the relationships and rivalries between the couturier Coco Channel (Anouk Grinberg), the designer Christian Dior (Patrice Thibaud) and the mentorship of Hubert de Givenchy (Adrien Dewitte).

In it second episode, titled “The Occupation”when the nervous investor Balenciaga visit Chanel When asked if the designer can succeed in Parisian haute couture, his famous response is emphatic: “Cristobal is the only authentic couturier among us. The rest of us are simply fashion designers.”

The series follows the turbulent political times and economical of fashion in the middle of the twentieth century, when designers had to protect their reputation and creative integrity of invading armies and corporate spies. Meanwhile, the couture craft traditions of fashion design had to deal with the emergence and the expansion of fashion mass manufacturing ready-to-wear.

An interesting element of the influence of Balenciaga within haute couture was its inspired use of traditional Spanish clothing and clothing and insignia catholicwhich he incorporated into his collections.

The series follows the turbulent political and economic times of fashion in the mid-20th century, when designers had to protect themselves from invading armies and corporate spies.

During episodes one and two, we see him struggle to define the style of his house until he looks through his historical art and costume books for inspiration. This commitment to the cultural memory of clothing reveals that there is authenticity, meaning and depth to his creations that emerge from his Spanish roots.

Christian Dior referred to Balenciaga as “the teacher of us all”and the Spaniard was admired for his technical genius and innovation by fashion journalists, critics, clients, employees and his peers within haute couture circles.

ready-to-wearmany of whom he mentored, brought his design principles to their mass-produced luxury clothing lines, including Givenchy, André Courrèges and Emanuel Ungaro.

Industry and passion

This is a series written, directed, and artistically directed by those who respect the place of ideas, skills, and innovation within the practice of creating designed objects. The magic of Balenciaga It is based on a motivated and tireless dedication to an art form. Everywhere we see hands, tools, textiles manipulated, cut, bent, sewn, tight and finally formed into a body ready to be viewed and ultimately sold.

This is an exceptional aspect of this series and is a pleasure to watch. In the final episode, called “I am Balenciaga”, the Spaniard struggles with the future of haute couture and his maison in a booming context of ready-to-wear. He realizes that one of his options is to retire and pass the reins to a trusted collaborator. However, he states: “It wasn’t just a business, it was part of me, like an extension of my body. How can a body survive without a brain?

An interesting element was his influence on traditional Spanish clothing and Catholic clothing and insignia, which he incorporated into his collections.

Another interesting aspect of the series is the growing power of the media to influence the pace of change within fashion markets. An important character throughout the series is Carmel Snow (Gabrielle Lazure), the head of fashion for the American edition of the highly influential lifestyle magazine Harper’s Bazaar.

Snow had the power to make or break the fortunes of even the greatest couturiers because, without magazine exposure, there would be no customer interest or orders.

Interestingly, episode four, titled “Replicas,” shows the beginning of the debate over the current systems of biannual fashion weeks, in order to limit press access to regular intimate haute couture shows in houses out of fear to the emergence of copies and forgeries.

This series is highly recommended and stands as an important piece of dramatized fashion history. Because what we wear is a facet of our identity, fashion is at the center of everyday and extraordinary events. This series is a testament that designing, making and promoting dresses will always involve passion and drama.

What the creators of the series say

The protagonist of the story, Alberto San Juan, assures that “Balenciaga revolutionized the world of haute couture and fashion design, he was a wildly free creator.”

But the actor goes further, declaring that, despite being focused exclusively on his work and not positioning himself ideologically, the artist was censored and challenged conventions because, he assures, “imagining freely is a political act.”

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For their part, the creators of the series, José Mari Goenaga, Jon Garaño and Aitor Arregi, add that they do not believe it is possible to completely separate art from politics, because, they say, “Art also needs politics in terms of politics.” of financing”.

*Senior Lecturer in Dress and Belonging, Manchester Fashion Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University.

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