Boleros y Mantillas: Icons of Spanish Fashion in the Meadows Collection
By the 19th century, France began its dominance of western fashion. French designs and trends were adopted by patrons all over Europe, from England to Spain. Many elements of Spanish fashion, however, elements that are still understood as traditionally Spanish, also left their mark on the industry. As part of the Meadows Museum’s exploration of the intersection of fashion and art with the exhibition of garments by celebrated Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, the simultaneously appearing exhibition “Boleros y Mantillas” explores those icons of Spanish fashion appearing in the Meadows’ excellent collection of Spanish art.
Embroidered boleros. Silk drapery. Black lace. Cristobál Balenciaga’s clothes have the drama of his native Spain. To show this native influence on Balenciaga, the Meadows Museum is presenting a parallel exhibition alongside the Balenciaga show, Boleros y Mantillas: Icons of Spanish Fashion in the Meadows Collection, which runs from Feb. 4 to May 27, 2007, and will include 16 works, ten of which are on paper. Balenciaga’s “infanta” gown was inspired by the costumes of the young Spanish princesses beautifully documented in portraits by Diego Velázquez, while his bolero jackets speak to his love of the bullfighting ring. Fashion historian Lesley Ellis Miller in her book about the designer traced many of his inspirations to the imagery from Spanish churches and galleries. For instance, his somber style, she says, evokes a religious subject matter and the heavy materials and drapery of many of Balenciaga’s designs are closely related to the Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán’s depiction of a monk’s habit. On the flip side he also found Spanish festivals a source of ideas. Many of his designs for frilly, flouncy cocktail dresses derive from the traditional dresses found in different provinces in Spain.
Eleven artists are featured, including:
- Ignacio Zuloaga
- Antonio Casanova y Estorach
- Jusepe de Ribera
- Fernando Villodas
- Francisco de Goya
- Francisco Iturrino
- Juan Pantoja de la Cruz
- Pablo Picasso
The latter is fitting since the fashion photographer Cecil Beaton called Balenciaga “The Picasso of Fashion.” Also in this parallel exhibition are a series of rare anonymous prints of Spanish costumes.