Coco Chanel once said that “fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
It also has to do with art, sculpture and architecture, and it was Chanel — along with her contemporaries Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga — who first helped elevate haute couture into haute art.
These three great designers in the first half of the 20th century singlehandedly transformed the craft of dressmaking into the creation of masterworks of couture, forever changing fashion history.
Chanel opened the door to practical clothing that molded to a woman’s body, discarding restricting corsets and other confining undergarments to liberate women to rebel in their natural beauty in elegantly draped gowns that bespoke femininity and sophistication.
Dior, on the other hand, pioneered the “New Look” with voluptuous designs that generated shapes and silhouettes that made women resemble delicate flowers, employing rich lavish amounts of fabric lined with percale, boned, bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats to make his dresses flare out from the waist and accentuate his model’s curvaceous form.
And both Chanel and Dior looked to Balenciaga — who they considered their mentor and the master of modern fashion art — for inspiration and guidance as they helped transform the mundane world of practical clothing design to elevated haute wearable art.
The Spanish Basque Balenciaga indeed revolutionized fashion with his uncompromisingly attention to detail in fabric, cut and shape, earning a reputation as the first architect of couture.
Dressing the likes of Grace Kelly and the Spanish royal family, Balenciaga broke barriers with his emblemic kimono cuts and inventive broadened shoulders.
He transformed the female silhouette with his signature tunic dresses and chemise gowns with empire waists.
And his unique approach to sculpted fashion were the inspiration and foundation for not only Chanel and Dior (who once referred to Balenciaga as “the master of us all”), but also Hubert de Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, André Courrèges, Emanuel Ungaro and Mil Schön.
An extraordinary collection of more than 100 items designed and created by Balenciaga is currently on display at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Chapultepec Park through Sept. 4.
The exhibit, titled “Cristóbal Balenciaga: el discreto esplendor de la alta costura” (“Cristóbal Balenciaga: the discreet splendor of high fashion”), includes samples of some of the great couturier’s most iconic designs, as well as preliminary sketches accompanied by bits of fabric and notes on construction.
With items on loan from the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum in his hometown of Getaria, Spain, and sponsored in part by the Spanish Embassy here, the exhibit constitutes the first formal presentation of Balenciaga’s fashion art in Latin America.
The collection also includes photographs of Balenciaga’s garments taken by Manuel Outomuro, Spain’s most important fashion photographer, and famous paintings of Mexican women dressed in gowns either designed or inspired by Balenciaga, as well as a small selection of some of his handstitched eveningwear creations.
“Balenciaga used fabric to mold fabric and create architecture in fashion,” explained the Arte Moderno’s head of collections María del Carmen Canales Vega during a press preview of the exhibit.
“He reshaped fashion and he reshaped the women who wore his clothing, making the designs adapt to his models with fluidity and grace to his models.”
The collection spans more than 30 years of Balenciaga’s career and also includes a selection of books and videos on his designs and their impact on modern fashion history.
The “Cristóbal Balenciaga: el discreto esplendor de la alta costura” exhibit will remain on display at the Museo de Arte Moderno through Sept. 4.
It will later be presented at the Museo de las Artes de la Universidad de Guadalajara in the State of Jalisco.
The Museo de Arte Moderno is located at Paseo de la Reforma and Gandhi in Chapultepec Park (tel: 5553-6233).
It is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
There is a 26-peso admission fee.
Sweet Rose Scent
Just in time for Mother’s Day, the high-end Italian fragrance house Acqua di Parma has released a limited edition version of its sumptuous Rosa Nobile Eau de Parfum, with three gold roses embalmed on the side. Rosa Nobile complements the brand’s luxurious, sophisticated and very elegant collection of feminine fragrances, among which are Iris Nobile, Magnolia Nobile and Gelsomino Nobile, inspired by the iris, magnolia and jasmine flowers, respectively. The perfumiers of Acqua di Parma selected an exclusive Centifolia rose, which grows only in Italy, to be the inspiration behind Rosa Nobile. The composition of the fragrance opens with a luminous, juicy signature of bergamot and mandarin, illuminating the floral heart with their notes, spiced with a pinch of black pepper. The Italian rose has the starring role in the composition, enriched with lily of the valley, velvety violet and gentle peony. The base incorporates dry, sophisticated woodsy notes of cedar and ambergris, surrounded with sensual musk.
Kissed by the Sun
Now you can have that sun-kissed glow of a natural-looking tan without the dangers of UVA and UVB rays with Dior Bronze Beautifying Protective Milky Mist Sublime Glow SPF 30 for face and body and Beautifying Protective Crème Sublime Glow SPF 50 for face. This dynamic duo gives your skin a radiant and even bronzed tone in just one hour while protecting your complexion from the sun’s radiation with a broad spectrum filter and nourishing it with intense monoï oils from Polynesia, These non-greasy, light-weight balms have a refreshing texture and scent that comfort both face and body and are suitable for all skin types.
And for a temporary flush of bronze, try Guerlain’s new Terracotta Bronzing Powder, available in three luminous shades that adapt to your natural skin tone. Guerlain was the first cosmetic company to create a bronzing powder and the powders echo the soft touch of the first rays of sunlight without being overpowering or too harsh. Light and translucent, Terracotta gives your complexion a natural healthy glow in a few strokes of a brush, combining the sensuality of a tan with the voluptuousness of light textures and a velvety finish that is both matte and luminous. The subtly moisturized powders flicker with golden and coppery shimmers and will not dry out skin.
Inspired by sweet candy colors and just as tasty, Clinique’s new Pop Artistry collection for lips and eyes paints an entire rainbow of summer shades to brighten your days and nights. There is a Clinique Pop Glaze Lip Color + Primer with an extra light formula featuring moisturizing shea and muru-muru butters that smooths on with a sheer finish and lasts up to six full hours, The Lid Pop eye shadows are all mineral-based with warm earthy tones and are guaranteed to stay put without irritating sensitive eyes. The range also includes a choice of textures and sheen in powders and blushes that encompass barely-there tints to full coverage foundations.
Dove has introduced a selection of bar soaps and body washes especially formulated for male skin. Available in two scents – Clean Comfort and Extra Fresh – Dove Men+Care soap and body wash are hydrated to moisturize while eliminating sweat and body odor without drying out skin. They both rinse off easily to leave skin feeling comfortable. Dove has also introduced three new lightly fragranced body washes for women with nutrium moisture complex to hydrate and leave skin softer. The feminine body washes are available in Deeply Nourishing (with a clean, mild aroma), Go Fresh (with a bouquet of mandarin oranges and tiaré flowers) and Purely Pampering (with shea butter and warm vanilla).