|photography by Vanessa Gavalya|
To know Myra Walker, and why she’s a big deal, you must first know Cristóbal Balenciaga. He was the fashion designer to whom all others look for inspiration. Christian Dior proclaimed him the couturier of couturiers.” He gave fashion the baby doll dress, the sack, and the bolero, and he gave many women the feeling, when they walked into a ballroom wearing one of his gowns, of being the only one there. Balenciaga died in 1972, and somehow dozens of his gowns ended up at the University of North Texas.
Enter Walker, who has been director and curator of the Texas Fashion Collection at UNT for 20 years. The collection houses more than 14,000 items, and one day, by chance, she noticed the roughly 300 Balenciagas. This led to a collaboration with SMU’s Meadows Museum, and 70 of the gowns will be showcased in “Balenciaga and His Legacy: Haute Couture from the Texas Fashion Collection,” an exhibit that runs from February 4 to May 27 at the Meadows. Walker rates it a must-see.“If fashion design can be considered as a sculptural art, Balenciaga achieved and often transcended that concept in his work,” she says. “That is what sets him apart as the master of 20th-century fashion.”