Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion

Things to do, Exhibitions
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(5user reviews)

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The V&A has written the mother of all love songs to Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972), and it’s one that will have you swooning over the Spanish fashion designer, too.

The ground floor is dedicated to his craftsmanship, and will have fashion nerds in their element. Nick Veasey’s x-ray photography has been put to good use revealing how the designer’s deceptively simple work was actually incredibly intricate, with weights ensuring that skirts hang just so, and corsets hidden beneath swathes of fabric. From the off you can see just how driven and forward-thinking his design was; bold, architectural and Kermit green, the caped dress from 1961 that opens the exhibition could very easily be a modern piece of Comme des Garçons.

Lovingly curated, it’s clear that the V&A want you to love Balenciaga as much as they do, and so have been at pains to prove just how ingenious the man was. Enlisting the help of students from the London College of Fashion to digitize his work, there are animations which show the intricacy of his pattern cutting. In addition, there’s a replica of his iconic cape-cum-skirt which you get to try on – it’ll do wonders for your social media feed.

The upper floor is dedicated to his legacy and how he has shaped fashion. You can see his influence in the clever use of fabric in Simone Rocha’s embroidered vinyl coat-dress which references the incredible Balenciaga pink evening-coat, embellished with vibrant plastic discs on the lower floor. Or the babydoll dress from superlatively great Molly Goddard, which clearly has its starting point downstairs, with the master and his rejection of the waist.

As Christian Dior said, ‘Haute couture is like an orchestra whose conductor is Balenciaga’. This exhibition shows that the fashion world is still playing to his tune.


Users say (5)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

An astounding step into what was and what continues to be Cristóbal Balenciaga’s innovative world.

A world of pure creativity and a master of manipulation with the human body.

‘Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion’ reflects the manipulation within fabric, silhouette and shape.

Balenciaga’s genius work to create these garments and looks display the highest peak of luxury and showcases the work of a visionary.

This exhibition shows that pushing boundaries and creating pieces of absolute art, stay in history forever. This is what Cristóbal Balenciaga is known for, for diversifying the natural silhouette of a body and creating a piece that is couture and cutting-edge.

The Victoria & Albert Museum have never been a disappointment when it comes to their exhibitions.

There is always something quite magical and different with the way they use their gallery spaces. It’s always a fantastical display and an excitement when going to an exhibition at the infamous V&A.

This exhibition celebrates his work as one of the greatest fashion designers in the industry and the 80th anniversary of his fashion house in Paris.

With over 100 garments of spectacular splendour and glamour, you’re bound to be mesmerised by Balenciaga’s vision.

What made me so excited about the exhibition were the pattern cutting of each garment.

When I look at a piece, I visualise the pattern in my head and every single cutting line.

I want to find out how it was cut, how it was assembled together and how long it took to make.

All these details that a lot of people don’t think about is what interests me the most.

The ground floor of the exhibition displays his beginning as a designer and his mastery of couture.

I loved observing his archive sketches that looked like something I’ve never seen before.

His patterns, his photographs, collaborative pieces and even fabric samples are the core designs of the exhibition.

The upper floor is more of his movement in fashion and how he changed the natural silhouette and incorporated his own style and vision to a garment.

Pieces here stand out even more and are exceptionally strong and captivating.

Like Oscar de la Renta said “Balenciaga worked like an architect... He was really cutting new forms”.

This is what this exhibition is all about.

Even if your not into fashion, I really believe that it’s thoroughly inspiring and I highly recommend anyone to go and see it.

Enjoy this world of Balenciaga.


Love MD.


This exhibition was incredible and for £12, you can't get such a history lesson in fashion at a lower price! I can't stop thinking about it. I loved seeing exactly how the process of designing and cutting and tailoring a garment worked for Balenciaga - he was a true couturier, known for ripping seams last minute if he was unhappy with how something looked. He pinned as he went and really focused on the structure of a garment, which is apparent in the x-ray photography that appears alongside some of the clothes on display. What a collection the V & A has curated! The upper level is all about his influence - and you can really see the connection between Balenciaga and the designers up above: Dior, Simone Rocha, Calvin Klein, to name a few. Please go and check this one out - if nothing else, to appreciate the work it takes to create such beautiful, masterful examples of couture.


The thing I love about the V&A is how it brings things into my view that I have never thought about. It uses fashion which to some seems frivolous and irrelevant to show how the world is influenced and developed. I really enjoyed this Balenciaga exhibition, which I've now seen 3 times. On the most obvious level the clothes are so beautiful.But on the next level realising the different ways that clothes that can be made - the almost political nature of are the clothes following 'form' are they functional or are they items with a form and life of their own is fascinating. That probably sounds utterly pretentious but thinking about the everyday - we all wear clothes, we are all influenced by what we see, we all have tastes and preferences - is exactly what for me museums and exhibitions are supposed to be about.

I know many won't want to pay the money for an exhibition that 'is a load of dresses' and I can understand that - but it really is worth a look.


Cristobel Balenciaga Eizaguirre is a man who possessed not only the prettiest & most lyrical name ever but also a genius touch when it came to creating clothes that women through the ages have – and will continue to do so – fallen in love with. This brand new, visually wonderful & impeccably fascinating retrospective at the V&A is another chapter in the museum’s illustrious story as a place that respects, adores & shares fashion with people from across the capital, the country and the globe.

Book a visit first thing in the morning would be my advice and give yourself a couple of hours to get round it; I arrived at 10am and when I left at noon, it was heaving. One of the best things about the exhibitions that are put on so flawlessly here is that they attract every kind of person you could imagine; every gender, every age, every background, all there to soak up the timeless style and effortless class that is painfully absent in so much of modern society today.

Downstairs you’ll learn about the man himself – meticulous, passionate, introverted and rather dashing – through archived notes, sketches and ‘mock ups’ whilst the space upstairs shows where his legacy has led to and the people he’s inspired. Dior, Givenchy, Schiaparelli – these are just a few of the peers and descendants of his work who adored him and by the end of this exhibit, so will you.

A tailor and dress-maker before he became a designer, Balenciaga’s talent at creating for women and his skill at being able to do so in many different ways is astounding. The gowns on show are breathtakingly beautiful – FYI, I’ve already earmarked the hand-painted Chinese silk and the hot pink cocktail dress – and I love the x-rays that the V&A has started adding to the fashion exhibits that show just how much ‘scaffolding’ goes into the vision of the finished product. There are also several films showing him at work, the fastidious expertise of his team, the loyalty of his clients and the designers who have been inspired by his overt choice to put quality over quantity. 

If you have any interest in clothing, in creativity or simply in the life of an absolute master in his field, book a ticket (for a crazily reasonable £12) and become acquainted with this lovely man and the lovely gift he gave the world. 

This exhibition of Cristóbal Balenciaga's creations is a must see in the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

Downstairs is filled with all of Balenciaga's incredible pieces and upstairs are the designers who have been inspired and heavily influenced by his work, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent etc.

I found it fascinating that Balenciaga isn't necessarily a household name with the likes of Channel etc. but yet has been leader in the development in fashion. His silhouettes are stunningly simple, and to help you understand the structure and art that goes into making these pieces the V&A have done an X-Ray like video to show the construction and layering of the dresses.

"For twenty five years he was the prophet of nearly every major change in silhouette" - Diana Vreeland

As you make your way through this incredible wardrobe you'll find yourself "ooh'ing" and "awww'ing", not to mention you get a chance to try on one of Balenciaga's garments, the skirt that is also a cape. 

On until Feb 2018, just for £12, you wont be sorry!  

Similar events