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10 Pieces from Cristobal Balenciaga’s Couture Legacy You Need to Know

As the French maison marks its return to the couture week calendar this coming July, here's exactly what you need to know about its revered past.
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Midway through scrapping our jaws from the floor on the opening day of the Spring/Summer 2020 Paris Haute Couture week, the break of a certain announcement sent our mouths falling right back to the ground. Cédric Charbit, the president and chief executive officer of Balenciaga, broke the news that the Parisian fashion house would be returning to the couture week calendar this coming July. The comeback follows after some 52 years of absence since the maison’s eponymous founder shuttered his revered couture house.

Under Demna Gvasalia’s creative helm, “a synthesis of the street and the salon” beckons. The descriptor, by Charbit, is as accurate as any of what the future of couture is due to look like at Balenciaga. The 38-year-old designer has big shoes to fill but if you have been playing close attention to Gvasalia’s tenure at Balenciaga, you’d have reasons to believe that he is the man for the job.

The news might’ve come as a total shocker but in hindsight, the signs have showed itself in the past year – particularly, at the brand’s Spring/Summer 2020 showing. The collection drew to an end with a lineup of gowns that would fit right into a couture show. Post-show debut, the bouncy dresses went on to break the Internet. The movement! The silhouette! The fabric! The colour! It all took the fashion set back to the house’s illustrious past in couture.

Since taking over artistic directorial duties at Balenciaga, Gvasalia has earned a reputation for democratising fashion. He propelled streetwear to the centrestage of the chichi riddled fashion week. At surface value, the similarities between Gvasalia and the inimitable Cristóbal Balenciaga might be lost. But if you dug a little deeper, they find common ground in their fundamental approach to design. Rather than to design for the predestined proportions of the body, both men engage in the illusions of a garment. You could think of them as fashion’s shape shifters.

While you might be no stranger to Gvasalia’s knack for subverting silhouettes beyond the stretch of most minds, moving into the house’s future in couture takes profound understanding of its past. Just as Rome was not built in a day, Balenciaga’s legacy was forged over a life time. We have picked out a comprehensive list of his iconic creations for you to dip your toes into the world the man who was dubbed “the master of us all” by Christian Dior.

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