Balenciaga | Master of Couture at McCord Museum

Balenciaga Women's Suit

Cristóbal Balenciaga was one of the boldest designers of his time and is still inspiring fashion designers to this day.  He was a true artist and was admired by many of his peers.

The McCord Museum is considered a leader in the collection of dress, fashion and textiles in Canada. As such, they delight us once more with the North American exclusive premiere of Balenciaga, Master of Couture.  In collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum of London. Montrealers can discover the masterful work of Balenciaga at the McCord from June 15 to October 14, 2018.

McCord Balenciaga Promo Poster

From the moment you enter this exhibit you are transported to an artist’s atelier. Balenciaga was first and foremost a trained tailor, an architect of fashion if you will. It is customary for a designer to draw their ideas and have various skilled employees take it from there. What made Balenciaga unparalleled was his study of every piece: he knew how to cut, assemble and sew everything he designed. At the height of his success he had a staff of hundreds but still added a personal touch at various stages.

[Balenciaga is] “the master of us all”Christian Dior

In the 1950s he revolutionized the fashion world by introducing broader shoulders and a more relaxed waist for women’s suits. He also introduced the balloon jacket, the empire waistline, and the three-quarter sleeve among others. This gave a new freedom to women’s fashion, leaning away from the tiny waistlines and certain constricting materials popular at the time. Balenciaga was also an innovator when it came to fabric. One of his fabrics of choice was gazar, a stiff silk created in Switzerland especially for him, which he used for his more sculptural pieces.


Throughout the exhibit, visitors can experience Balenciaga’s entire process. Not only do we get a glimpse of garments, hats, and accessories, but we also have access to sketches, photos, x-rays and fabric samples. This allows us to deconstruct the making of a couture piece and to observe the level of craftsmanship found in his masterpieces. It really is an ode to the fact that fashion is a work of art.


Cristóbal’s protégés included Oscar de la Renta and Hubert de Givenchy. He was a pioneer and his work influenced generations of designers and pushed the envelope towards the evolution of haute couture. The final room of the exhibit contains multiple works by current designers who were inspired by Balenciaga’s techniques. This goes to show how relevant he still is to this day.

Whether you are a lover of fashion, history, craftsmanship or creativity this exhibit is not to be missed. You will also be able to uncover the connection between the designer and the city of Montreal! For more information and for tickets you can visit the Museum website here.


Jano Lapin has something exciting in store. We will be posting an in-depth Balenciaga feature by bespoke artist Cinthya Chalifoux who will also be a guest on our new show Art Impact coming to you this Fall on MaTV! She will be taking us on a journey to discover the technical prowess and history of this grand master, who is an inspiration to her as an artist and inside her own atelier.

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