Balenciaga & Comme Des Garçons @ Les Docks en Seine, Paris


While in Paris I was also fortunate enough to see two contrasting fashion exhibitions at the docks inside a wonderful building on the river. The pieces on show were from the designers Cristobal Balenciaga and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.

The two shows were particularly striking in that despite standing side by side, they are a complete juxtaposition from one another. The spectator starts with the collection of Cristobal Balenciaga – mostly very black pieces as well as his own sources of inspiration from the 18th and 19th century, before being lead into the SS12, modernist, white, pure artistry of Rei Kawakubo.

Balenciaga’s collection is a vivid array of sequins, lace, satin and velvet. The show is in honour of the 40th anniversary of the designer’s death and showcases over 70 historical Spanish pieces from his own collection as well as 40 couture dresses from 1937 to 1968 – putting his inspiration and his own work side by side in a stunning display.

And from historical Spain we move to modern day Japan in the adjacent gallery. The stark contrast from the darkness of Balenciaga’s collection to the whiteness of Comme des Garçons ‘White Drama’ collection just next door is startling. The designer chose to display her 33 piece Spring Summer 2012 collection in clear bubbles. The completely white collection is presented in a way to allow viewers to see the details among the mesmerising looks.

This show in all its simplicity and beauty should not be missed. The presentation of the black and the white side by side, yet still completely separate is bewitching. It shows differences between time, continent and era in a subtle yet elegant way.

The show is on display until October 7

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN 2018 (London).

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