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London Attired in Balenciaga

London is in a class of its own when it comes to cultural offerings. This list of exhibition spaces to visit may seem overwhelming, but it is well worth seeing some of these museums or exhibition halls whenever you happen to be in London. One such privileged spot is the Victoria & Albert Museum, dedicated to art and design, which has been hosting an endless stream of exhibitions lately. This alone warrants at least a brief visit to London.

This is true of Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, the latest jewel put out by the V&A to steal our hearts, cajoling us into making room on our agenda to delight in the work of this brilliant couturier. The exhibition, inaugurated on 27 May and running until 18 February 2018, pays tribute to Cristóbal Balenciaga, one of the great visionaries of haute couture. A contemporary of Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, he managed to seduce everyone with his technically perfect minimalist designs based on polished lines and new materials. His craftsmanship once prompted Coco Chanel to remark, “He alone was a couturier in the truest sense of the word… the others are simply fashion designers”.

On display at this exhibition, curated by the fashion specialist Cassie Davies-Strodder, are a hundred garments and twenty hats, most of which come from the V&A collection. Among the curiosities at this show is the chance to discover some of Balenciaga’s dresses and hats in detail, thanks to the collaboration of artist Nick Veasey who uses X-ray imaging techniques to reveal the complexity hidden in the designs.

This is the first exhibition in the United Kingdom dedicated to Balenciaga, who opened his first boutique in San Sebastián a hundred years ago, while eighty years have gone by since he arrived in Paris, fleeing from the Spanish Civil War. It was there that he eventually set up his own workshop and earned international fame. However, recognition was late in coming to this outstanding couturier. Acclaimed for his meticulous craftsmanship, he always shunned the limelight, despite boasting such customers as Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner and the millionaire, Mona von Bismarck.

New Design Museum in London

Still within the confines of design, to make the most of your London getaway we recommend you take the opportunity to visit the new premises of The Design Museum, which opened its doors on 24 November. Housed in the former Commonwealth Institute, the building has 10,000m2 of floor space and a parabolic ceiling. Renovation work on the premises was assigned to British architect John Pawson. The goal of this reconversion was to turn the museum, previously housed in more modest premises in the city, into a veritable beacon of design, by way of a Tate Modern of design and architecture. Apart from revelling in the new design space, you can also visit the newly unveiled exhibition, Designed in California. It explores how the ideals of the 1960s counterculture morphed into the tech culture of Silicon Valley, and how the “Designed in California” concept became the global phenomenon we know today.

Fire up and make your getaway to fine design – book your Vueling to London here.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Photo: Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux Magots, Paris, 1955. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

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