Alaïa and Balenciaga: Sculptors of Shape until January 2021 – Text by OG
While in today’s new world we have lost the means to our humble appreciation for rail transport, including the public elegance and shaded adventures, masters Azzedine Alaïa and Cristóbal Balenciaga would have held on to it. They would have cherished the fidelity driving us on an overnight train journey to Paris to contemplate their exhibited work. Sculptors of Shape has been extended until January 2021 with a promising chapter beginning September 27th 2020: color.
The dampness of a summer night is the ideal climate for the sensuality now shown at Fondation Azzedine Alaïa titled Alaïa and Balenciaga: Sculptors of Shape.
Azzedine Alaïa had the privilege and responsibility of examining and archiving what he would later transform into one of the most interesting, private collections from the Spanish master (aside from Museoa Balenciaga in Getaria, Spain). Balenciaga’s atelier director Mademoiselle Renée selected Monsieur Alaïa for this role during the early 70s and the final product is undeniably worthy of a trip to the City of Light.
Though operating in different times, Balenciaga’s departure from the fashion industry in 1968 had much in common with Alaïa’s testaments of work towards the end of the 2010s. Both progressive couturiers firmly rejected the idea of fast, luxury fashion, but can we call their visions constitutional and influential? Oui, pour toujours!
Curated by Olivier Saillard, the next phase of Alaïa and Balenciaga: Masters of Shape keeps transgressing the bridges that unify these two ergonomics aficionados. The main one– shape, in this case– is the affinity for sculpting around women’s bodies. Knitted, woven and visible through exhibition at the Fondation are the parallel ways that a Tunisian master and a Spanish master kept obsessively tailoring curves and silhouettes in different ways, scattering potential around bodies while remaining invisible behind them. Face-to-face, however, Alaïa’s acute rules in construction brought his dream of building, sharing and, most importantly, protecting his dream into full radiance. Together with Balenciaga’s heritage, both schools of thought guarantee the perfect shape to which we remain indebted.
On an early morning at the beginning of August, we made a call to Paris and a mademoiselle’s sweet voice through the landline phone told us:
– Oui Monsieur, l’exposition changera sa “thématique”
– la “thématique”?
– Yes, sir. Alaïa and Balenciaga: Sculptors of Shape is changing its subject. It will be all about colors. You’re more than welcome.
Best train routes to escape to Paris:
London > Paris 2h25
Antwerp > Paris 2h2
Milan > Paris 7h16
Cologne > Paris 3h36
Amsterdam > Paris 3h19