For those of you who may be lucky enough to get to visit the Basque Country sometime, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite places with you.

640px-Belenciaga1

Balenciaga Museum, Getaria. Photo by Owheinze 11, via Wikimedia Commons

The Balenciaga Museum is housed in a newly built annex to the Palacio Aldamar, a villa overlooking the quaint fishing village of Getaria, Gipuzkoa (click here to see a short video showing the building). It celebrates the life and work of Getaria-born Cristóbal Balenciaga Eizaguirre (1895-1972).

597px-Cristobal_Balenciaga

Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972), via Wikimedia Commons

Described by Christian Dior as as “the master of us all” and by Coco Channel as “the only couturier in the truest sense of the word,” Balenciaga was one of the most famous fashion designers of the twentieth century. Nicknamed “the Master” and the “King of Haute Couture,” he enjoyed a glittering career designing clothes for celebrities such as Grace Kelly. The museum consists of approximately 1,600 pieces and constitutes one of the most important fashion collections in the world today. Click here to see some of these pieces.

Balenciaga_dresses_museum_display

Some Balenciaga designs. Photo by Marguerite Mengjie via Wikimedia Commons

Just in case you thought this was the Basque Country’s only contribution to world fashion, bear in mind that another major twentieth-century designer, the enfant terrible of the 1960s French fashion world, Paco Rabanne (born 1934) hails from Pasaia, Gipuzkoa.

These two figures represent another dimension of Basque culture that is often overlooked: namely, its international projection at the forefront of contemporary global culture. The interplay between traditional and modern Basque culture is discussed in Cameron Watson’s Modern Basque History.