Spanish Beauty: Art and Fashion

Basque born Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972) was influenced by the art and culture of Spain to create masterpieces of couture fashion. The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum is currently exhibiting Balenciaga and Spain. Spanish Renaissance painters such as Greek born Domenicos Theotokopoulos(1541-1614) provided inspiration for the designer's work. Better known as El Greco, his Lady in the Fur Wrap is a departure from his signature blue white tortured bodies. The beautiful pink skinned woman with dark eyes and hair is believed to be El Greco's long time companion, Doña Jerónima de las Cuevas. She is elegantly dressed in Iberian lynx. Later painters including Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) also gave Balenciaga motifs for his designs. Goya depicted the boy Victor Guye in the uniform of the Order of Pages to Joseph Bonaparte. Although the costume is French in origin, the gold braid on black is given a Spanish flair by the artist. Perhaps Balanciaga's fashion genius was intrinsic to his heritage. Ana de Mendoza, Princess of Eboli (1540-1592) was a Spanish aristocrat who accidentally lost an eye as a child. She went on to be considered one of the greatest beauties of Spain and her eye patch a fashion accessory.