Cross the Bridge for Some Must-See Fashion at the de Young

For all its old money, stately mansions, and well-preserved socialites, San Francisco rarely rates a mention in the same breath as Paris, Milan, or the world’s other fashion capitals.

That changed last month, when the de Young Museum celebrated the opening of its new exhibition, Balenciaga and Spain. Hollywood celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Orlando Bloom mingled alongside local luminaries, but the greatest validation of all came from the presence of the high-priestess of fashion herself: Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue magazine.

Curated by Hamish Bowles (Vogue’s Editor-at-Large), the show presents a survey of the career of famed Spanish couturier Cristobal Balenciaga and the impact of his native country on his designs. Stunning gowns, suits and accessories from the world’s great collections of fashion and textiles (including the de Young’s) get the fine art treatment here, and tell the story of how Spanish culture – think bullfighting, flamenco and Picasso – influenced Balenciaga’s meticulously crafted, ultra-feminine garments.

In other words, not the type of exhibition to show up to in your sweats and running shoes.

So for this week’s Great Escape, dust off your nicer duds and treat yourself to a Friday night at the DeYoung. The museum stays open until 8:45 p.m., which makes an early or late supper ideal. If you really want to make it a Balenciaga-themed evening, pay homage to his Basque heritage with a meal at Piperade or Bocadillos , where superstar chef (and Mill Valley resident) Gerald Hirigoyen has been wowing diners and critics with his creative take on Basque regional cuisine.

The 411: Balenciaga and Spain at the de Young Museum, runs through July 4. Museum hours: Tues-Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.; Fridays open until 8:45 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

Apr 21st, 2011 | Posted in Fashion
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