Balenciaga and Spain a Fashion Inspiration

I just went to the fabulous Balenciaga and Spain exhibit at San Francisco’s de Young Museum and was blown away by the powerful work of Spanish haute couture master Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972).

courtesy of New York Times, Andrew Fox

Balenciaga’s fashion sense was strongly influenced by Spanish art, dance and even religious traditions. But unlike many designers who hide their original influences behind layers of material, Balenciaga wasn’t afraid to take easily recognizable silhouettes like a monk’s pointed cape and transform it into a brown raincoat (see the last mannequin on the right) or take a nun’s robe and make it into a chic wedding dress (see center).

His other major influence were the traditional costumes of Spanish bullfighters, from which came many stylish hats, shirts and, a personal favorite of mine, a black cape with delicate pink pompoms.

Balenciaga’s other influences ranged from the lavish ornaments of the old Spanish royal court seen in paintings by Velasquez to the geometric shapes in the modern paintings of his friend Joan Miro.

Walking around the exhibit it really seemed like Balenciaga could take anything – from a monk’s simple robe to a fisherwoman’s tucked skirt – and transform it into true haute couture, while preserving the costume traditions of the Spanish people. No wonder he was referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior.

The exhibit closes on July 4, so if you live in San Francisco and care about fashion, go N-O-W!


San Francisco Brides issue talks up local talent

I just received the Fall 2011 issue of San Francisco Brides magazine and the cover is simply to die for, featuring a powdery leafy crepe cake by Batter Bakery that may just make a girl forget about her groom, especially when shot by the famed wedding photographer Elizabeth Messina.

If you’re a loyal follower, you’ll notice the paper in the magazine feels and looks different than usual. Editor in chief Robin Wilkey told me, “The new stock is thicker with a bit more tooth. The goal is to make the colors pop and the book thicker.”

For me, the highlights of this issue include the local fashion shoot “Making Waves” shot in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and featuring wedding gowns by local designers Jinza Couture Bridal and the quickly rising star Amy Kuschel.

My one regret is that all the jewelry in the shoot is provided by advertisers, many of them national brands, instead of local designers. As a former full-time newspaper reporter, I understand that the money for magazines has to come from somewhere and that jewelers are often it, but I also think we in San Francisco have a reputation for local talent to uphold.

When I was talking to national jewelry editors at a trade show in Las Vegas last month, they said San Francisco is not exactly known for its jewelry designers. But I assure you, we have plenty of amazing local talent.

I have nothing against giants like Tiffany & Co, but just as brides are starting to embrace local gown designers, I think many of them would love to know more about their local jewelry artists.

But I digress…

One of the reasons I was very excited to finally see this issue was because of its real weddings. Not only are they a fun read, but this time the editors included an incredible real wedding photographed by Choco Studio.

But that will have to wait till my next post 🙂

Best wedding photographers honored by ISPWP

The International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers, or ISPWP, just published the winners of its Wedding Photography Contest, where the work of the best photographers in the world is honored. Check out the amazingly creative wedding photography.

One of the judges was Mike Peyzner, the founder and CEO of wedding photography studio Choco Studio. This prestigious job was the result of Choco’s amazing work, long involvement with the ISPWP and the recognition they have received from many important publications.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Caroline Robert | Sweet Caroline Photo | Austin, TexasWEDDING DETAILS

Ekaterina Mukhina | Purlita | Moscow, Russia


Daniele Del Castillo | Del Castillo Photography | Milan, Italy