Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Inspiration for "Phantom Thread"

I fell in love with the film Phantom Thread last December, and immediately set about to learn all I could about Cristobal Balenciaga, the Spanish haute couture legend who inspired Daniel Day Lewis. I approached the website Willow & Thatch to write about the film and its inspiration. Willow & Thatch is doing a wonderful job of covering historical films and TV series.

Story begins here:

With the balloon skirt, and the tunic, chemise and baby-doll dresses, fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga reinvented the 20th century female silhouette. Balenciaga was a man ahead of his time, and he’s the inspiration for Reynolds Woodcock, the lead character in the 1950s-set new period drama Phantom Thread.

The Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum remembers him as “Perfectionist, extraordinarily technical, creative, innovative… He was a genius that revolutionized the concept of dressing… Wherever he went, Cristobal Balenciaga sparked passions.”
Below, Nancy Bilyeau looks at how Phantom Thread opens the door to understanding a very private, and extraordinarily gifted, man.

Phantom Thread's Inspiration

By Nancy Bilyeau
“One fainted. It was possible to blow up and die.”

Those were the words of legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland about seeing the new work of a certain designer at his Paris house. There was one fashion show in particular, held in the early 1960s, when Vogue Editor in Chief Vreeland recalled, “Audrey Hepburn turned to me and asked why I wasn’t frothing at the mouth at what I was seeing. I told her I was trying to act calm and detached because, after all, I was a member of the press. Across the way Gloria Guinness was sliding out of her chair on to the floor. Everyone was going up in flame and thunder.”

The collection they were seeing was one by Cristóbal Balenciaga.

What may seem bizarre to us now, in the age when fashion designers employ battalions of publicists and Instagram launches style Influencers who expose to the world their hour-by-hour clothing choices, is that there was no question of Balenciaga appearing before the public at the end of that particular 1960s show, one displaying his “masterpieces of sculptural purity,” as they were described, or of giving even a single interview. There could only be perhaps a glimpse of the man that Christian Dior called “a master for all of us”: From the doorway to the ateliers, Balenciaga often peeked through a hole in the curtain.

For the rest of the story, go to Willow and Thatch, a wonderful website: link.

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