In a previous post this week we looked at hit-and-miss dance costumes created by fashion designers. Yet the history of fashion also features designs created for very different performances. A while back we looked for example at costumes by Cristóbal Balenciaga, mentioning the fact that in 1945 the designer made the white dress for the female singers of the Orfeón Donostiarra, one of the most prestigious amateur choirs in Europe (it currently boasts more than 170 members), originally founded in 1897.
The collaboration was born out of a personal friendship since a few members of the choral society worked at Balenciaga's EISA Costura as dressmakers.
The tunic went through a major revamping process in 1964, after Balenciaga met Juan Gorostidi, the secretary of the Orfeón Donostiarra choral society.
The resulting design was extremely minimal and consisted in a monastic straight tunic with a belt in white crepe. The design was made with high quality fabrics purchased from the Swiss Abraham company. Thanks to the quality of the Swiss company's fabrics and the clean lines of the design, all the tunics made from that moment on achieved the desired silhouette and uniformity.
The design was first worn during a journey to Lisbon for a series of concerts in Portugal, organised by the Circle of Portuguese Culture. The documents stored at the Balenciaga Museum reveal that Mr Gorostidi was extremely happy with Balenciaga's design as the tunics guaranteed a great visual impact.
Sixty-one years have gone since Balenciaga created the tunic, but the female members of the choral society are still wearing it. Its classic and elegant Haute Couture pattern has achieved indeed throughout the decades a new beauty and nowadays the extremely basic and pure design of the dress could be defined as being charged with a poetic sci-fi architectural simplicity (think Renaissance angel-meet-Princess Leia out of Star Wars and you get the idea...) that makes the performers look visually striking, distinguishing them from the members of any other choir. The design perfectly proves that trends pass and style remains while reminding us that simplicity is often the key to create a genuinely timeless piece.
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