High-Light: Christobal Balenciaga and Salvatore Ferragamo

 One of my routines, which ends up being way more time consuming than I realize, is browing the amazing timeline of art history at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website. I was there today, to do research for one of my Art History classes, and of course I was distracted by The Costume Institute's database of fashion designers, ranging from Jacques Fath, Hussein Chalayan, Christian Dior, Prada, Vienne Westwood, Cristobal Balenciaga, etc. - a great look at  truly distinguished vintage fashion, which has been granted the status of being art. The whole 'what is art?' question is way to fueled to get into now, so I will show some of the favorite things I came across.

I have recently been enamored with the history of the Balenciaga line, starting with the simple and established creations by the Spanish designer, Cristobal Balenciaga (his rival, Christian Dior is known for saying that Cristobal was "the master of us all"). After his death in 1972, the fashion house wasn't reopened again until 1986, when the new RTW line, Le Dix, was revealed by designer, Michael Goma. The brand didn't gain high-end status until five years after Goma,  Josephus Thimister replaced him. But when Nicolas Ghesquière started designing in 1997, this was truly when the brand became the epicenter of avant-garde fashion.  Ghesquière created a new 'Balenciaga woman', his pieces are wearable works of art that stretch the usual comfort zone of high-end fashion. His SS 2010 line is to die for - Ghesquière makes me want to geometrically transform my style and wear leather pants, and I would love these beautifully printed open toed heels. (above: Images of Balenciaga's SS 2010 collection)

Above is a Cristobal Balenciaga velvet evening coat from his fall/winter 1950 collection. The significant visual of it's balloon shaped sleeves and cape collar is augmented even more by the beautiful overall red velvet (The MET adds that the significance of the red comes from this color being the favorite color of renowned Spanish painter, Goya). By couture standards at the time, this coat would only have been $770!  I love this piece, and it reminds me of a monarch themed editorial (below) with Sasha Pivovarova. She is looking very royal chic in this special spread wearing Alexander McQueen's collection in American Vogue September 2008, shot by David Sims. This shoot looks like it would have definitely included the Balenciaga evening coat:

More fun things I found through the MET website: gorgeous ankle-strap sandals from 1938 by Salvatore Ferragamo (on the left ) and his purple suede/gold metallic leather wedge shoes, circa 1950 (on the right). Ferragamo was known for the creation of the platform shoe, showing the world that he was playing around with different ways to anchor weight on the foot. The purple sued shoe shows his interest in being able to tweak history - this wedge being an influence from a 15th century Italian men's shoe. These two pairs of shoes display the designer's numerous talents -  being able to create a new kind of 'heel', modernizing the current shoe design, and also being able to peel inspiration from Italian history into his innovations. 

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