Balenciaga in Black
Balenciaga in Black is an incredible ode to Cristobal Balenciaga. The prospective reader might find the text a bit heady but, in this case, the more you know about this designer, his influences and his modus operandi, the less important the text becomes even if it is highly informative and educational; this reviewer reveres and believes Monsieur Saillard to be the quintessential fashion historian.
in 2013 there was a book titled The Master of Us All: Balenciaga by Mary Blume and this fashionphile can safely state and assure any future reader that then and even more so now that Balenciaga was and is The Master of Us All. This reviewer and fashion obsessed reader was totally awed by this latest telling of this “master’s” career. The photography and mood of Balenciaga in Black is decidedly quite different from most other fashion books of the genre.
This is not some glossy editorial type photo-centric book filled with creations of what fashion dreams and fantasies are made from. The book is, yes, black, and indeed it is very black to the point where some might think it is almost funereal and dreary in its approach to the subject while others might find it a bit too challenging in terms of seeing the clothes. Balenciaga in Black possesses an almost mystical aura given the way that the clothes are photographed and presented. The images require not just looking but examining them to be able to fully appreciate and comprehend the unmatched abilities and wonders that this designer created within his oeuvre.
Of particular interest to all readers should be the images that focus solely on the jewelry, which of course is all or mostly black, and that these accessories possess the same high voltage drama as the clothes.
The 100 or so pieces shown here comprise an exhibition made possible by Paris Musées and the Kimbell Art Museum via the collection of Palais Galleria, the City of Paris’ museum of fashion and from the Balenciaga archives. All of this adds up to the fact that Balenciaga in Black is aimed at the cognoscenti of fashion and not those who are searching for a primer on the designer.