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Balenciaga: The Spanish Influence

by Alexandra May | May 11, 2017 | 0 Comments


Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) Flamenco-style evening dress, Cristobal Balenciaga, Paris, 1961. Photograph 1971.© Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's.


The only silver spoon that Cristobal Balenciaga was born with was that of talent, and the birthright of a country filled with inspiration, history and stimuli.

Balenciaga was from Getaria, a fishing town in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa. His mother was a seamstress, his father a fisherman who died when Cristobal was very young. He spent his childhood learning from his mother while she worked, until he was apprenticed to a tailor when he was twelve.

In his teens his patron and client, Marchioness de Casa Torres sent him to Madrid where he was formally trained in tailoring. 

All of  this provided a foundation for one of the few couturiers in fashion history who could design, cut, and sew an item from scratch

'La Tulipe' evening dress, gazar, Balenciaga for EISA, Spain,1965. Made for Ava Gardner © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

His first runway collection shown at his Avenue George V Atlelier, where he moved when the Spanish Civil War forced the move of his operation to Paris, was inspired by Spanish Renaissance. This was the start of many interpretations of various aspects of Spanish culture that Balenciaga was to make throughout his career. His ‘Infanta Gown' for instance, was inspired by the costumes of young Spanish princesses from portraits by Diego Velazquez and the short, heavily ornamented ‘jacket of light’ traditionally worn by toreadors; his signature colours were Goyaesque pink with black; he drew  on Spanish regional dress seen in the balloon skirts of women from ibiza, for his Autumn 1950 collection; and his love of drapery, wrapping at the hip or flying from the shoulders, has been traced to the robes tumbling around the saints in Zurabaran's canvases.

Bolero Jacket, Velvet with felt and velvet appliqué and beading, Balenciga for EISA, Spain. 1947. © Museo Cristolbal Balenciaga.

Our Madrid based designer, Anton Heunis unsurprisingly also gains inspiration from his Spanish environment and interestingly enough worked with a pupil of Balenciaga, Emmanuel Ungaro.

Thumbing through the book created by Anton for his tenth anniversary, one can see photographs of his own precious antique toreador jacket, montages of local culture and wonderful rich Spanish renaissance colours.

Earrings and Necklace by Jean Louis Blin

Another of our designers who is based in Madrid is Ricardo Douaihi. Richardo channels Spain’s historical inspiration through the rich, stiff crochet that forms the basis of his magnificent jewellery.

Balenciaga invented the high collar which highlights the neckline and of course, any necklace being worn. It’s fascinating reading about Balenciaga whilst relating it to the Spanish based jewellery designers we have, and also to the beautiful Spanish woman, Claudia that works for me and who is acting as the shops model for this blog.

Bracelet by Extastia, Necklace and earrings by Anton Heunis 

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, sponsored by American Express, at the V&A from 27 May 2017 – 18 February 2018. vam.ac.uk/balenciaga



Posted in anton heunis, Balenciaga, Cecil Beaton, couturiers, Cristobal Balenciaga, design, Diego Velazquez, dramatic necklace, elegance, flamenco, Getaria, history, infanta, Madrid, renaissance, renaissance colours, ricardo douaihi, rich colours, short jacket, sotheby's, Spanish Civil War, spanish renaissance, toreador, tradition, ungaro, V&A, velvet


by Alexandra May | June 02, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ever since Vogue reported that nautical-themed jewellery was set to be big this summer, I've been keeping an eye out for any pieces containing pretty pearls, blue gems and iridescent shells. 

Those who want to give a subtle but colourful nod to the sea trend will love the ocean-blue hues that can be found in Philippe Ferrandis's collection, while fans of statement jewellery won't go unnoticed in these offbeat fish pendant earrings from my long-time favourite, Ayala Bar. Madrid-based designer, Ricardo Douahi, features sea colours in these nature-inspired, hand-embroidered earrings that recall beautiful ocean flora.

Need something more flamboyant? I was pleased to discover that my latest delivery of Askew London jewellery contained a number of marine inspired pieces, each one replete with the usual Askew sparkle, detail and decoration. While Sue Askew's work is admired by designer jewellery fans worldwide, each of these pieces is part of a very limited run, making them perfect for those who want something that's both high-fashion and one-of-a-kind. These three are fit for a mermaid princess:

To browse the full Askew range, click here.

Alex x

Posted in Anton Heunis, Askew, Askew jewellery, Askew London, Askew London Bracelet, Ayala Bar, blue earrings, blue jewellery, British Vogue, collectable jewellery, colourful jewellery, costume jewellery, handmade earrings, jewellery, limited edition jewellery, marine, mermaid, Philippe Ferrandis, sea, Sea life, shells, vintage crystals, vintage style earrings, Vogue uk

Frida Kahlo Inspired Jewels

by Alexandra May | March 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

Jewellery designer, Anton Heunis, has done it again. He has treated us to a feast of colour and Mexican-inspired jewellery with both his 'Frida Kahlo' and 'Zulu Goddess' collections which have just arrived in store. They are stunning!

We have a huge choice of earrings, all gold plated and handmade in Madrid with vintage glass stones and Swarovski crystals in an array of shapes and colours, such as hot pink, lime green, turquoise, red, blue, yellow, purple and orange. What could be better for summer?

With so many to choose from, it's just a matter of deciding which pair!



Posted in Anton Heunis, Anton Heunis earrings, Anton Heunis jewellery, Anton Heunis Madrid, Frida Kahlo jewellery, Mexican-inspired earrings, Swarovski crystals, vintage stones

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