Vogue have released a series of books on designer houses with absolute presence, history and influence over the fashion world. The four who made the cut include Cristobal Balenciaga, Hubert De Givenchy, Ralph Lauren and Dame Vivienne Westwood.
Susan Irvine, writer and journalist, was appointed to present Balenciaga, naming him “The greatest couturier of 20th century and a fashion recluse”, having only been interviewed twice and never meeting clients; even the prestigious. The Vogue attendees were even treated to never before seen footage of the couturier at work behind the infamous curtain that he observed his shows behind. Balenciaga mastered creating volume and narrowness at once, featuring rollaway collars, yoke seams, melon sleeves and soft folding cascaded gowns.
Author, broadcaster, commentator and journalist Drusilla Beyfus represented Givenchy, whom she described as a minimalist at heart, with scrupulous tailoring and an unorthodox aesthetic. The presentation pointed out how America loved Givenchy in a way the British reserved for Dior.
Kathleen Baird-Murray, author and beauty writer, shared the ins and outs of Ralph Lauren, who was inspired by his love and muse Ricky Lauren. Lauren has a love for all things British, giving him a niche as an American designer and quite possibly setting himself apart as the first to pioneer androgyny women’s tailored-wear.
Friend, prior intern and fan of Dame Vivienne Westwood, Linda Watson poured passion into her presentation. Describing Dame Vivienne as the frugal of fashion and a designer by default. Collaborators, creative soul-mates and influential force Malcolm McLaren and Westwood owned the rebellious teddy boy and boundary pushing punk look, of course always created in their favourite colour ‘dirt’.
The presentation, at times a competitive debate, was a great reflection of fashion’s history; only including the best bits, and a realisation of the impact fashion creates and the importance of each fashion house’s distinctive story.
This talk was part of the ongoing programme of evening events at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.