The further one ventures into the retrospective, the more the futuristic elements increase. But there are high-tech elements throughout, including flat-screen televisions showing sketches by Balenciaga on various hotel letterheads. Others broadcast rare footage of the couturier during a fitting, his concentration palpable, and worked through to a compilation of Ghesquière's rapid-fire fashion shows.
Ghesquière chose to exhibit mostly his recent work, which has been rich in archival references, culminating with what he called a "reference collection" for the coming fall-winter season. The designer said the house's heritage has helped him to become "more conscious of the very concrete elements of the brand. I think it's now incorporated into my spirit."
And the house continues to enlarge its archive, giving it more latitude with its Balenciaga Edition label of archival reissues. "The girls love it. It's like having new vintage clothes. It's a very interesting concept," said Ghesquière. "Edition has a really incredible potential. The concept is, ‘This is timeless,' so it's timeless forever."
The Balenciaga exhibition runs through Jan. 28 and will be followed by one devoted to Jean Paul Gaultier's collaborations with choreographer Régine Chopinot.