The Rachel L. Mellon Collection | ITSLIQUID

The Rachel L. Mellon Collection

Fashion | October 21, 2017 |

The Rachel L. Mellon CollectionImage courtesy of Cristòbal Balenciaga Museoa

The Rachel L. Mellon Collection
Cristòbal Balenciaga Museoa, Getaria
From 27 May 2017 to 25 January 2018


The Rachel L. Mellon Collection is the first organised by the Museum on the subject of her legacy. Of the more than 600 textile and document references making up the collection, 150 representative pieces have been selected, most of which have never been exhibited before. Specifically, there are 7 pieces of clothing together with original documents and personal objects: sketches, correspondence, invoices, photographs, etc. The exhibition enables us to approach Balenciaga through the fascinating filter of Mrs. Mellon as a client, friend and expert collector, and as the exponent of a way of life to which very few had access.


The Rachel L. Mellon CollectionImage courtesy of Cristòbal Balenciaga Museoa


This reading represents a complex challenge tackled under the direction of Mr. Hubert de Givenchy, Founder-President of the Museum, key figure of the genesis of the collection and a personal friend of both. Produced by the Museum, the exhibition has the associate curatorship of Eloy Martínez de la Pera, Patron of the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation, and Igor Uria, the Museum Collections Director.


The Rachel L. Mellon CollectionImage courtesy of


The Collection
The collection put together over the years was given a strong boost in 2014 thanks to the important legacy left to it on Mrs. Mellon’s death and which was subsequently enhanced with the reception of documents referring to the collection anddonated by the Gerard Lambert Foundation. The collection therefore includes all sorts of clothes and accessories for all times of the day, purchased by Mrs. Mellon during more than 10 years. It specifically comprises 120 day outfits, 50 coats, 40 cocktail dresses, 25 evening gowns, 20 déshabillés, 10 gardening outfits, 30 lingerie items, 215 scarves, 32 toques and hats, and a miscellaneous category amounting to a total of 660 pieces. The Rachel L. Mellon collection also comes with a document archive including 138 original sketches with fabric samples and 250 references of commercial and personal correspondence.


The Rachel L. Mellon CollectionImage courtesy of Cristòbal Balenciaga Museoa


It is, undoubtedly, the biggest Balenciaga collection by a single client conserved today in the collection of any museum. However, although the volume of articles is in itself important, the greatest wealth of the collection lies in its variety and in the information emerging from relations between the pieces and the documentation which Mrs. Mellon’s habit of keeping things now offers us the opportunity of observing. This interrelation between documentary evidence and the collection of attire perfectly reflects the purchasing process of an international client at the Balenciaga house, starting with the sketches sent for her to choose models and ending with the invoice. In turn, a number of documents also highlight the exclusivity and preferential treatment dispensed to Mrs. Mellon.



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