Balenciaga's Shaping Fashion Exhibition

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion exhibition in London review

After Burberry's Henry Moore Exhibition at Makers House and Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty, a new fashion exhibition has made it to London town: Cristobal Balenciaga's Shaping Fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum is an absolute must! 

Shaping Fashion marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga's first fashion house in San Sebastian and the 80th anniversary of his famous second one in Paris. With a focus on the designer's most creative period, the 1950's and 60s, the exhibition opened officially a few weeks ago in May and will run until February 2018.

Shaping Fashion Exhibition At The V&A In London

Shaping Fashion is the first-ever UK exhibition showcasing Balenciaga's work and highlighting his influence on today's fashion industry, e.g. designs by Hussein Chalayan are on display, too. The reason to put emphasis on a later stage in Balenciaga's career was mainly as he produced a significant amount of bespoke designs for high-end clients. It was also the time in which Cristobal introduced iconic shapes to the fashion world that we can't live without today, such as the baby doll shape, the tunic, the shift dress and the sack.

Shaping Fashion exhibition at the V and A

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion: The Structure Of The Fashion Exhibition

Shaping Fashion is hosted at the V&A's specifically designed temporary space right in the middle of the lower ground floor. The round, two-tiered space has been used for the Undressed - Underwear Exhibition before and particularly stands out through its narrow aisles and many glass displays. 

This might not work for everyone at first sight, as visitors love to see fashion without the glass barrier. However, this time, the exhibits have been curated in a way to engage the visitor and draw them fully into their world. 

On display are more than 200 pieces including 20 hats which have never been shown publicly before. They are accompanied by archive sketches, patterns, photography, runway footage, samples and two interactive sections in which visitors can try on a Balenciaga cape and get their hands on crafting a one-seam coat in paper form to take home.

Whilst the lower floor explores Balenciaga's craftsmanship, his workrooms and the experience of being a client, the upper floor showcases contemporary designs which have been influenced by the iconic designer's style. Later generations of fashion designers sharing the same values as Balenciaga, have taken inspiration from his styles and impacted today's fashion industry with a more eccentric approach.

Balenciaga fashion exhibition london
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Balenciaga Shaping Fashion: History & Exhibits Of Balenciaga's Most Productive Years

At first, I wasn't too happy to see the exhibition hosted in the narrow gallery as it didn't work well for the Undressed exhibition - especially for popular exhibitions, the display space is way too uncomfortable as it overcrowds very quickly and you can't spend too long admiring the pieces as there's a constant visitor stream flowing in. Be prepared for some disappointment if you've booked yourself a time slot for after work or the weekend.

I had a ticket for a Friday late afternoon and was lucky as the exhibition was well visited but not super busy as in you've-got-pushed-through-all-the-way. 

The exhibition is classically curated - pieces are displayed behind glass and there are labels to read. Not very interesting and engaging, however, I had a bit of time to have a proper look at the pieces and read a few labels. Before I walked into Shaping Fashion, my knowledge of Balenciaga was reduced to the fact that Kristen Stewart used to model for the luxury brand. 

Though the exhibition is structured in a classic way of display and read, I took a lot of information away. Did you know, the luxury label has a sister brand called Eisa in Spain which is much more affordable?

balenciaga designs displayed at fashion exhibition london
balenciaga dress sketches exhibition
exhibits at balenciaga shaping fashion exhibition london

A woman has no need to be perfect or even beautiful to wear my dresses. The dress will do that for her. - C. Balenciaga

Balenciaga Produced Wearable Fashion For The Modern Woman

Throughout the exhibition, it became obvious, that Cristobal was a highly-skilled designer, who was an absolute expert in his field. Not only was he a master in designing and crafting, but in the actual dressmaking process itself. 

He was a firm believer that "it's the fabric that decides" which reflects pretty much his approach to his work. Balenciaga used to source and choose materials first and would then work his sketches and designs around it. This approach was very fascinating, as it is usually practised the other way round and it just further underlined Balenciaga's passion for the trade of creating and dressmaking, rather than designing.

His passion came through in every exhibit. The majority of dresses came in every colour possible. The shades were mainly in their purest form with barely any hybrid or pastel colours used. Cristobal was obsessed with sleeves and would work on those until pure perfection was achieved. 

Whilst admiring the beautiful dresses, it became apparent that Balenciaga created wearable fashion for strong, independent women. Barely any design was massively over the top, which usually happens when designers approach fashion as an art form such as the destructive work by McQueen.

Cristobal experimented with fabrics and used embellishments, volants as well as pleat and oversized materials to create architectural pieces. All of his styles are minimalistic and look at first sight simple and basic. However, the V&A used innovative X-ray technology to prove the myth that Balenciaga did use sophisticated structures inside his designs to make them work. 

The designer has worked with dress weights strategically to determine the exact hang of a skirt in one of his minimal creations and boning in bodices dispelling the myth that he didn't use these structures. The forensic approach looking at the hidden details was captured by X-ray artist Nick Veasey and prints are available from the museum's shop at £50 each.

x-ray technology in fashion balenciaga exhibition london

Cristobal Balenciaga, the father of contemporary fashion, is dead, but his influence remains. - Women's Wear Daily, 1972

The second floor boasts with contemporary designs which have been inspired by Balenciaga's work and values. Amongst the exhibits are many eccentric pieces which celebrate fashion as art. My favourite pieces were a white gown with subtle flowery elements and a pink cape and hat combo.

contemporary fashion influenced by Balenciaga
designs influenced by balenciaga shaping fashion
balenciaga exhibit shaping fashion london
fashion exhibition london balenciaga influence
Balenciaga influence on contemporary fashion

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion: Is It Worth Going To See The Exhibition?

I spent 1 1/2 walking around admiring the pieces. I found it less engaging and wowing than the Savage Beauty exhibition, but that's partly because the space was different and many pieces by Alexander McQueen weren't kept behind glass. I would advise you to book a time slot for a quieter time in the day as it gets crowded in the narrow aisles leading around the exhibition. 

The upstairs space is a bit more spacious allowing the exhibits to get "room" to fully develop their effect for the visitor to appreciate. The exhibits on display are magnificent and manifold in so many ways and tell a story of their own. You can literally feel Balenciaga's passion for the craft and industry and take away some inspiration for yourself. 

Tickets for the Shaping Fashion exhibition cost £12 and can be purchased via the museum's website.

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

Oysho Summer Look

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Oysho summer oufit ootd fashion post

Shopping belongs as much to a holiday as the extensive sightseeing. Whenever I'm abroad, I put a few hours aside to browse through the local High Street retailers in the hope to bring back home some fashion finds. My latest discovery is the Spanish fashion brand Oysho, which funnily enough, I found during my to trip Paris in France.

2017 FashionTrend: Underwear Is The New Outerwear

Oysho caught my attention when I explored the main shopping street of Paris and the range of fine lace, lingerie and white summer dresses intrigued me to enter the store. As a sister brand of Zara, the collection is a mixture of fine, quality lingerie in combination with wearable basics, such as white summer dresses, casual tops and fluffy slippers - think of the trend underwear as outerwear which was massive in 2014. 

The slip dresses and pyjama-styled clothes are chic, trendy and easily wearable for the daytime. I loved the uncomplicated pieces of Oysho's Spring/Summer collection and ended up with a combination I would usually not go for. The trend of nightwear as daywear is risky and can very easily go terribly wrong, but when I saw those silk-like striped trousers teamed up with a simple black plunge top, I had to give it a try.

Oysho striped trousers and black top


My Oysho Summer Look Features A Lacey Top & Striped Trousers

This summer look couldn't be any different from my previous Costes Summer Outfit: the black top seems quite basic, yet the cut and fine lace detailing along the neckline add that "special extra" to it. The trousers feel silk-like though the main material is actually polyester. On warm, sunny summer days like we have currently in London, you want to wear light materials that flutter in the soft summer breeze - uncomplicated and light-weight.  

When it is hot, I tend to barely wear any jewellery, mainly because the metal heats up and becomes unbearable to wear. In this weather, less is more so for me dainty jewellery works best. I've decided to wear my circle necklace from Orelia which picks up the subtle and fragile element of the lace from the top. Now add a bit of wavy beach hair and et voila, you have your summer look!

At first, I was wary of the style, but I got used to it quite quickly thanks to the comfortable material and casual feel. At the time I visited the store, Oysho also sold beautiful swimwear so a khaki-coloured bikini made it into my shopping basket, too. Price-wise, I would level the brand similarly to Warehouse, Oasis or Zara. One thing is definitely for sure: Oysho is a shop I'd visit again and I'll keep my eyes open for a branch when I'm heading to Spain for my summer holiday.

Oysho fashion outfit summer look
Oysho nightwear to outerwear look

Here's What I'm Wearing:

Striped Trousers: Oysho (current SS17, £20)
Black Lace Top: Oysho (current SS17, £26)
Dainty Ditsy Circle Necklace: Orelia* (SS15, £12)
Sandals: Warehouse (SS14, sale £15)
Gold bangle: Promod (SS10, sale £5)
Watch: Daniel Wellington (current season, £160)

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

Smart Casual With Gant*

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Gant smart casual outfit fashion post

Oh, the weather has been absolutely magnificent lately in London and I'm happy we seem to get more than three days of sunshine and warmth this summer. I had the chance to enjoy a picnic at Greenwich Park with my friends and also relaxed on my balcony, as I moved into a shiny new place over the last few days. Yes - lots has happened these past few weeks and I now live in zone 3 which allows me to get to work within 40mins tops - bye, bye long commute and hello free time for blogging!

Life Update From London & My Latest Fashion Finds

The new place is a bit smaller than my previous flat so I had to declutter and part from a few beloved pieces, but new space in the wardrobe means space for new stuff, right? At first, I felt overwhelmed when I got the news to move out, but now I feel relieved that it has happened and settling into a new environment feels like a fresh start.

I'm still settling in and a few things need to be sorted out in my new place, hence why I haven't had much time for blogging lately. With a shorter commute and the longer days in the summer though mean I will have a bit more time to invest into StyleLingua and I cannot wait to share soon another summer-inspired outfit with you.

The forecast for the coming weeks promises lots of warm weather and sunshine. Whilst it is tempting flip-flopping around all day in your comfy harem trousers, dressing smart casual for the office is another story. What can I wear to work? becomes then one of the major first world problems (followed by What's for lunch?). 

smart casual womens wear gant
Gant shirt and black skirt outfit of the day

A Smart Office Look That Works For Sunny & Warm Spring Days

Shirt: Summer to me is all about breathable and light-weight materials - ideally light coloured as well to reflect the sunlight and reduce overheating. I have a very weak spot for linen and this Gant striped linen popover shirt* is right up my street. 

Its soft material is light-weight and comfortable to wear on your skin. It has very subtle brown stripes which apply a casual touch to the overall look and would also work well in combination with black harem trousers. Made of 100% linen, the shirt also comes with a chic collar, four-button placket, pointed pockets and adjustable cuffs, so for those warmer days, you can easily roll up the sleeves. 

The Gant logo is embroidered on the chest for that extra preppy touch. The shirt comes in different styles which are great if you prefer linen shirts a bit longer. A longer version would work very well as a shirt dress in combination with a belt or take it with you on holidays and dress over a bikini to wear after a swim in the ocean.

Skirt: I've decided to team up the smart Gant shirt with my black all-around skirt from Stradivarius. I found it back in 2014 when the first UK branch opened in Stratford and I've not regretted a single day that I've bought it. 

The feminine cut of this cotton skirt has been part of many of my outfits as it is such an uncomplicated piece of fashion and goes with a lot of blouses and tops. It is quite hard for me to find a suitable skirt as I don't really have a skirt figure, but it helps that this one is tailored around the hip, with a slight flare and a casual fit.

outfit smart casual
gant popover shirt style
gant smart wear for the office

My Accessories For My Smart Casual Outfit 

Shoes: My black lace-up flats by New Look were bought in 2015 and you may remember them from my Black Chic for Bloggers Love Fashion Week outfit when they made their first appearance here on StyleLingua. Ballerina-styled flats were so on-trend back then and I still love mine with their gold detail on the heel which was the main seller for me to be honest. Tapered shoes will always be super feminine and add a touch of chic for a grown-up style, so it goes without saying that I included those for today's office inspired outfit.

Bag: To pick up the subtle colours of the Gant shirt, I decided to include my nude coloured Kate Spade handbag. This one was a find during shopping at Bicester Village Designer Outlet a few Christmas sales ago. 

Back then I had my eyes on a Michael Kors Selma handbag but those were not available at a reduced price and the Kate Spade model had a similar shape. Inside the bag are adjustable straps that allow the bag to change forms, so it can either be worn as a Selma-shaped handbag or a normal box-shape. The inside is big enough to hold your keys, sunglasses, phone, camera and a small bottle of water. Perfect to take out during your lunch break!

gant shirt outfit fashion post

Here Is What I'm Wearing:

Striped Linen Popover Shirt*: Gant (current SS17, £95)
Black Skirt: Stradivarius (AW14/15, £15)
Strap Watch: Daniel Wellington
Belt: Stradivarius (AW15/16, £9)
Lace Up Flats: New Look (SS15, £30)

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

*PR sample
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