The galleries at the Meadows Museum look like a fashion-mad runway. That’s because “Balenciaga and His Legacy: Haute Couture from the Texas Fashion Collection” is in town. Southern Methodist University’s museum is the only venue that will display this chic exhibit, which highlights the gay, Spanish-born designer’s most creative period: 1949 to 1968.
Stage designer Winn Morton is responsible for the Meadows’ makeover complete with a painted ballroom backdrop and a raised catwalk. Adding dramatic flair, Morton also installed faux windows with long silky drapes and wide columns.
More than just studies in gold brocade and bodies, “Balenciaga and His Legacy” also examines the master’s competitors and colleagues, as well as his couture patrons. You can compare and contrast designs by Oscar de la Renta and Hubert de Givenchy. And there’s the extensive wardrobe of Balenciaga’s most devoted Lone Star swan: Claudia de Osborne, who married into a prominent sherry and winemaking family.
Photography buffs can peruse images borrowed from the Balenciaga archives in Paris. Illustration aficionados can inspect details of his renderings. The exhibit also includes collages of Balenciaga-designed hats and shoes.
The condition of the garments and Balenciaga’s sense of classic modernism belie the age of the fashions. The materials are delicious lush silk, tulle and brocade, jewel-beaded trims, fur and feathers And the colors are exquisite: opulent reds, rich golds, hot pinks and yards of infinite black.
Meadows Museum, 5900 Bishop Blvd. Through May 27. Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thur. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. $8. Free parking in the garage beneath museum. 214-768-1138. MeadowsMuseumDallas.org
Also at Meadows: “Boleros y Mantillas: Icons of Spanish Fashion.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007