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 aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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