PaperCity Magazine

November 2018- Dallas

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78 I t is a scene museum fi gureheads prefer we never lay eyes on. The Renzo Piano pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum is in a state of quiet, organized chaos. Things are elegantly undone: Bare dress forms are lined up awaiting their turn for a garment; display cases stand empty before being fi lled with hats and necklaces; and around every nook, simple notes indicate the soon-to-be fi nal placement of every gown, coat, and cape. No more than six people are scattered throughout the vast gallery, which is soon to be stripped of bright light and all color for the exhibition "Balenciaga in Black," the magnifi cent display of Cristóbal Balenciaga's work in noir that runs through January 6, 2019. The stars of this behind-the-scenes show come from Paris, sent on behalf of the Palais Galliera, the institution that organized the exhibition. Two women are deep in work, softly speaking to each other in French. Corinne Dom, the collection technician at the Palais Galliera, is a fashion conservator of sorts. She appears plucked straight from a French couture atelier with her taut chignon, cotton gloves (lest oils from her hands tarnish the decades-old pieces), and stark-white coat that seems more a fi t for a chemistry lab than a museum gallery. She fi ts a piece of foam around the waist of a headless mannequin, in an effort to create the subtle curve of a woman's hip. Once perfected, a black Balenciaga sheath is carefully slid over the dress form. Et voilà! Rather than hang lifelessly, it fi ts perfectly snug — the mannequin having been made to fi t the precise size and shape of the woman who originally wore the dress more than 50 years ago. This is, after all, haute couture. Nothing was made ready to wear. Rather, these pieces are one-of- a-kind in the truest sense, down to the length of the hem, the width of a sleeve, the nip in the waist — all for the fi t of one singular woman. Nearby, Véronique Belloir, the Palais Galliera's curator of haute couture collections — dressed in all black, the epitome of French chic — carefully examines a knotted overlay, strewn out on a large table, soon to be fi tted atop the aforementioned sheath. She waves us over to point out the craftsmanship behind what seems a simple kind of macramé. A closer look reveals far more intricate detail: It's all done by hand, each knot falling in just the right spot to create a perfect, three-dimensional BLACK BLACK BLACK of BLACK BLACK SHADES Corinne Dom and Véronique Belloir at work BY CHRISTINA GEYER. PHOTOGRAPHY ROBERT LAPRELLE. Cristóbal Balenciaga cabbage dress, 1967

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