Hamish Bowles, the guest curator of Balenciaga and Spain, knows a great deal about a great many things in the fashion universe. As European editor at large for Vogue, he profiles the fashion cognoscenti and embarks upon experiential journeys, bringing his unique sense of style to surfing lessons or surviving in the woods.
In 2001, he curated the critically acclaimed exhibition Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Bowles is also the author of books on Yves Saint Laurent and Carolina Herrera, as well as the catalogue to Balenciaga and Spain, among others. He’s justly deemed “the British style maharishi” by Interview.
Like Cristóbal Balenciaga, Bowles found his true calling early. As a child, he collected clothing from thrift stores around London. Today he owns more than 2,000 pieces.
A special light comes into the curator’s eyes when he talks about the Spanish master.
“What’s truly extraordinary about Balenciaga,” Bowles says, “is that from 1937 to his retirement in 1968 he was constantly pushing himself and honing his design ideas. It’s an extraordinary and very unusual trajectory. On the eve of his retirement, when he was in his 70s, his clothes became as abstract and experimental as anything he had ever produced as a young man. Balenciaga was never satisfied with resting on his laurels.”