Balenciaga, Chanel and Dior helped dress the cast of ‘Cristóbal Balenciaga’

PARIS — Cristóbal Balenciaga, the Spanish couturier who reigned for three decades at the top of his profession, was known as the most demanding designer of his generation. But that didn’t stop Bina Daigeler from replicating some of her most famous creations for “Cristóbal Balenciaga,” the long-awaited Disney+ series that explores the life of the secretive maestro.

“I didn’t doubt it. I thought, wow, this is an incredible project and what a responsibility,” the award-winning costume designer told WWD in an interview ahead of the show’s streaming launch in Europe on Friday.

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“I am also a perfectionist and I think my great advantage in a project like that is that my [training] It comes from haute couture, so I am also a tailor,” he noted.

The six-episode Spanish-language series is a movie couturier’s dream as fashion drives the plot, which focuses on the period between 1937, when the designer presented his first haute couture collection in Paris, and his death. in 1972.

Bina Daigeler and Pepo Ruiz Dorado.Bina Daigeler and Pepo Ruiz Dorado.

Bina Daigeler and Pepo Ruiz Dorado

Since Balenciaga rarely appeared in public and only gave a handful of interviews, the only thing that is widely documented is his work.

When it came to researching, Daigeler and his co-designer, Pepo Ruiz Dorado, had the help of the Balenciaga house, now owned by the French luxury group Kering, as well as Miren Arzalluz, director of the Galliera Palace. museum in Paris and former director of the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation in Getaria, Spain.

“In some of the dresses we had the possibility, the opportunity to see them live, but then my workshop was in Madrid, so we had to do everything based on photographs and books,” said the German-born designer. that he moved to Spain in the 80s.

“The research process is super important because when you look at all these photographs from the period and study them, you really educate your eye and that helps you translate it into your own work,” he added.

A scene from the Disney+ series. A scene from the Disney+ series.
A scene from the Disney+ series “Cristóbal Balenciaga”.

Balenciaga teams shared sketches, photographs and videos from their archives and provided access to their haute couture salons at 10 Avenue George V. The house revived the address in 2021 when Demna, its current creative director, showed its first haute couture collection in 53 years in a fully restored version of the original space.

In-house experts also reviewed the script with directors Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and José Mari Goenaga, who, like Balenciaga himself, hail from the Basque Country, the area straddling the border between France and Spain along the Gulf. of Biscay.

Spanish actor Alberto San Juan had to learn French and Basque, not to mention sewing techniques, to play the main character.

In a statement, the Balenciaga house said it was interested in “encouraging accuracy and ensuring a compelling narrative that reflects the journey of Cristóbal Balenciaga. However, the story remains fictional and a free interpretation of Disney+. Balenciaga is not responsible for the exact accuracy, timeline or artistic decisions.”

Since Balenciaga’s personality remains a mystery even to fashion insiders, many will enjoy the scenes that evoke his relationships with peers such as Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Christian Dior and, above all, Hubert de Givenchy, who considered him a mentor. He also highlights the life of him and his business partners Wladzio d’Attainville and Ramón Esparza.

The poster for the Disney+ series The poster for the Disney+ series

The poster for the Disney+ series “Cristóbal Balenciaga”.

The series attempts to shed light on the multifaceted personality of the designer, who never attended fittings or took a bow at the end of his shows, setting a blueprint for elusive creative directors from Martin Margiela to Hedi Slimane.

“He was ahead of his time in marketing and communication strategies, artistic and business control and identity of his fashion designs. He was the first creative director of fashion and his life and work have a surprisingly contemporary and relevant reading,” Sofía Fábregas, vice president of original production at Disney + Spain, said in a statement.

With credits that include Spanish productions such as “All About My Mother” and Pedro Almodóvar’s “Volver,” as well as international films and television series such as “Narcos,” “Snowden,” “Mulan” and “Tár,” Daigeler clearly had the skills needed. to face a company of such magnitude.

Her next project is “Mother Mary,” another style-centric affair starring Anne Hathaway as a fictional pop star and Michaela Coel as a fashion designer. But equipping the “Balenciaga” cast was especially complex.

Nine d'Urso in a scene Nine d'Urso in a scene

Nine d’Urso in a scene from “Cristóbal Balenciaga”.

“I learned a lot, for example, from dressing fashion shows. It was not something she was used to, so learning how to find the right model for each of the dresses was a super interesting process,” she said, highlighting Nine d’Urso, the daughter of French fashion icon Inès . de la Fressange, who plays Colette, the house’s long-time model.

“She was just fantastic,” enthused Daigeler. “She has the right attitude and image.”

The costume designer oversaw most of the series’ fashion show segments, which also feature collections from Dior and Chanel. “Both houses helped us,” she said, noting that Dior’s famous Bar jacket was reproduced by Atelier Caraco, a specialized atelier in Paris.

Meanwhile, Chanel worked with Daigeler on looks worn by French actress Anouk Grinberg, who plays Coco Chanel, lending archival pieces from jewelers Goossens and Desrues. Hats, shoes and fabric flowers were also made in their specialized workshops Maison Michel, Massaro and Lemarié.

“We tried to be very authentic and do justice to these incredible designers and these incredible couture houses,” Daigeler explained.

He also had to show the garments in various stages of construction for the workshop sequences, which provides insight into why it was so daunting to reproduce Balenciaga’s complex architectural creations.

Alberto San Juan as Cristóbal Balenciaga.Alberto San Juan as Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Alberto San Juan as Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Described by Dior as “the master of us all,” Balenciaga was revered by clients, fashion critics and his peers for his technical virtuosity and for relentlessly reinventing the female silhouette with revolutionary designs such as the cocoon coat and the sack dress.

“It is an enormous difficulty because it is not only about [do] “You have to get the right prototype and shape, you also have to get the right fabrics, and that’s a big challenge because today fabrics are no longer the same weight,” Daigeler said.

“Now the wools are much softer and they no longer have that rigid body that the wools had in the ’40s and ’50s. And he also used a lot of thick silks, and we were lucky to be able to find gazar, which is like this famous fabric that Balenciaga used , and that helped a lot,” he said.

Daigeler admits he struggled with the balloon shapes, but was lucky enough to work with a pattern maker who trained with members of the Balenciaga team.

Among the show’s standout costumes is the white satin and mink wedding dress that Spanish aristocrat Fabiola de Mora y Aragón wore for her wedding to King Baludoin of Belgium in 1960. Daigeler was reluctant to describe it as her masterpiece. Balenciaga.

“I can’t decide what his masterpiece really is, because there are so many interesting shapes,” he said. “Sometimes he would actually create sculptures and I think that’s the masterpiece of him, that he didn’t follow a mainstream. He absolutely has his own style and progressed all the time. Progression is his masterpiece.”

Launch gallery: Inside the Disney+ series “Cristóbal Balenciaga”.

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