Like the rest of the world, Barbara Tfank has had Balenciaga on her mind. But not the controversy, Tfank has been thinking about Cristóbal Balenciaga, the man. “I did a lot of historical research before starting my collection, and there were inspirations from Balenciaga,” she explained. “That was a starting point for me. As designers, we always need inspiration.” In particular, Tfank was taken by the statement bows that often decorated his couture gowns. On the back of a white strapless peau de soie dress, a bow cinched the waist like a bouquet of flowers; and on a black velvet column, also strapless, an oversized bow at the shoulder added drama.
When not looking back at Balenciaga’s history, Tfank was zeroing-in on her own. Recalling the time in the ’90s when she was at Prada and designed the lavender dress Uma Thurman wore to the 1995 Academy Awards ceremony, she brought up the difficulty of finding outerwear for evening in the colder weather. “Shawls are fine, but we’ve seen that done too much,” said Tfank. “It was nice for me to come up with new fresh ideas for cover-ups that don’t clash with your dress or make it look like an afterthought of the clothes.” She added two outerwear pieces to her eveningwear rotation—an opera coat and a cropped capelet that can be matched to any gown in the collection. “I always love looking back at the past to see all the brilliant things people did. Of course, you must re-adapt them, but it’s nice to appreciate them in the present day.”