Fashion Designer Balenciaga - Dovima in red Balenciaga evening coat photographed by Richard Avedon
Sleeves. There are words to describe just about every type of sleeve - mutton, cap, butterfly, dolman, kimono, and the list goes on. But what do you call a sleeve that breaks the boundaries of easy definitions? A Balenciaga.
The famous Balenciaga sleeve photograph above, shot by Irving Penn, is what inspired me to examine more of his sleeves. I cropped most of the rest of the photos to focus on the intricate details of his sleeve designs. After looking at hundreds of fashionable arms, I came to the conclusion that Cristobal Balenciaga definitely knew his way around a sleeve.
Dorian Leigh modeling for Irving Penn wearing Balenciaga
Henry Clarke photograph of Balenciaga suit
Two of the best photographers of the mid century, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, turned the details of his clothing into iconic fashion images that will always remind us of Balenciaga's genius. It's hard to tell who was the star - the photographer, the model or the designer. The combination of the three created pure fashioin magic.
Georgia Hamilton photographed by Richard Avedon in Balenciaga
Balenciaga worn by Lisa Fossnagrives and photographed by her husband, Irving Penn
It gets harder to recognize brilliance when you assume it has always been around, Balenciaga's work was ground breaking. and when you take a look at the innovative details he incorporated into his work, you will begin to appreciate his talent.
Alberta Tiburzi in Balenciaga 1967
Even his "non sleeve" sleeves were beyond anything being done at the time.
Alberta Tiburzi in Balenciaga 196
So that is just a small sampling of the sleeves of Balenciaga. Nicolas Ghesquière did some pretty impressive sleeves during his time at Balenciaga - I was sad when he left. Now we will have to wait and see what Alexander Wang has up his sleeves in the years to come. Pa dum dum.