Edited by Lester Brathwaite on
On Saturday, armed with our umbrellas and a sense of purpose, my best gal pals (read: gays) and I swam through the damp and a sea of mimosas to two of Manhattan’s best, fashioncentric exhibits: the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute‘s Balenciaga: Spanish Master and the opening of the Gagosian Gallery‘s Francesco Vezzoli: Sacrilegio.
Conceived by the Chairman of the Institute’s Board of Directors, Oscar de la Renta and curated by Vogue‘s own Hamish Bowles, Balenciaga: Spanish Master is the the first collection “to consider the impact of Spain’s culture, history and art” on the career and artistry of Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972).
Balenciaga forever changed the way women dressed and introduced dramatically different silhouettes into a woman’s sartorial lexicon. Spanish Master showcases some of the designer’s brilliant, beautiful and very often groundbreaking work in millinery, evening gowns, cocktail dresses and daywear, particularly highlighting his expert construction and tailoring.
Featuring over 70 pieces from the Balenciaga archives, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, The Hispanic Society of America, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Texas Fashion Collection, the collection also benefited from loans from the private collections of Sandy Schreier and Bowles himself.
The exhibit also ”considers the influences on [Balenciaga's] designs of the country’s great artists, from Zurbarán and Goya to Picasso, Sorolla and Miró, and of Spain’s religious dress and ceremony, its royal history, its rich regional costume, its dance traditions, and the power and splendor of the bullfight. “
I was in raptures pouring over Spanish Master‘s two floors and was especially surprised by Balenciaga’s continued experimentation and ingenuity well into old age and until his retirement in 1968. One could easily see the rich history from which Nicolas Ghesquière regularly culls and reinterprets through the house’s current collections.
Balenciaga: Spanish Master is an experience that any lover of fashion or art or Spanish history should not miss. The exhibition will be on display at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute through February 19th and is $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors, and Institute members.
Queen Sofía Spanish Institute - 684 Park Ave
Like Cristobal Balenciaga, artist Francesco Vezzoli was inspired by religion for his latest exhibition Sacrilegio. He has reimagined 15th- and 16th-century Madonna and Child paintings by Giovanni Bellini, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli utilizing 80s/90s supermodels including Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christie Brinkley, Tatjana Patitz, Claudia Schiffer, Stephanie Seymour and Kim Alexis.
The exhibit purports to examine “the societal worship of figures from the fashion and celebrity industries” by combining supermodels with historical religious icons.
Vezzoli adorned each painting with “makeup, tattoos and large oblong tears rendered in needlepoint” and the gallery itself has been transformed into a Renaissance chapel. Some of the works also feature an FV with “a needle and thread forming part of the initials.”
The exhibit was interesting and wholly entertaining — I mean, Christie Brinkley crying a giant needlepoint Liza Minnelli tear! I’m surprised I didn’t collapse from the amount of awesome being thrown my way.
Whether you subscribe to the artist’s idea of using these supers to “reflect a reality that has a huge power over our lives” or are just tickled by Naomi Campbell as a holy figure, Sacrilegio is definitely worth seeing. Sacrilegio will be on display at the Gagosian through March 12.
Gagosian Gallery - 522 W 21st St