THE latest exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery celebrates the work of one the most revered fashion designers of the 20th century, Cristobal Balenciaga.
Opening tonight, Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will showcase the Spanish designer's exquisite craftsmanship and pioneering use of fabrics that revolutionised the female silhouette, setting the scene for modern design.
His garments are characterised by their sculptural quality, deft manipulation of textiles, and dramatic use of colour and texture.
Balenciaga: Shaping Fashioncomes to Bendigo via the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and is another Australian exclusive for the art gallery.
Bendigo Art Gallery Director Jessica Bridgfoot said Balenciaga was revered by his contemporaries, including Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, and was referred to simply as "The Master".
"The exhibition will feature some of his most enduring designs that are still seen in fashion today - the tunic, sack, baby doll and shift dresses. His styles have inspired many designers over the past 50 years, making him an icon of the fashion industry," Ms Bridgfoot said.
"In a Balenciaga creation, women could be striking, bold and interesting without having the perfect waistline. He had a great respect for women and his fashion house models were all shapes, sizes and ages to reflect his clientele.
"The exhibition marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga's first fashion house in San Sebastian and the 80th anniversary of the opening of his famous fashion house in Paris, so it is a timely reminder of how influential and enduring his work remains and we look forward to celebrating his incredible legacy over the coming months."
The collection will feature archive sketches, patterns, photographs, fabric samples, catwalk footage and a unique collaboration with x-ray artist Nick Veasey and a digital pattern-making project with the London College of Fashion, which reveals the hidden details and processes that make Balenciaga's work so exceptional.
Other highlights include ensembles made by Balenciaga for Hollywood actress Ava Gardner, dresses and hats belonging to socialite and 1960's fashion icon Gloria Guinness and pieces worn by one of the world's wealthiest women, Mona von Bismarck, who commissioned everything from ball gowns to gardening shorts from the designer.
Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion is open from August 17 to November 10