Balenciaga, a series that wants to be ‘more than a biopic’

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

San Sebastian, 22 September (EFE) — About Cristobal Balenciaga, it can be said that everything is known about his work as a haute couture master and almost nothing about his personal life. In one and the other, directors John Garaño, Aitor Arregui and José Marie Goenaga tried to create “with respect and care” the protagonist of their first television series.

The project was developed as a Disney+ original production that features the first locally produced series and with actor Alberto San Juan as the absolute protagonist of Balenciaga, which will be six chapters and will premiere in 2023 and among the latest additions of which belongs to the musician Alberto Iglesias.

As part of the festival in San Sebastian this Thursday, the presentation of this project, directed by the team of directors “Handia”, a ten-award-winning film, and “The Endless Trench”, which received two awards, was also presented, as well as Basque producer Xabier Berzosa is participating.

Together with everyone, they took part in the action, which took place at the San Telmo Museum, Vice President of Original Production for Disney + Spain Sofia Fabregas; co-writer and creator, Lourdes Iglesias, and costume designer Bina Daigeler, who led a team of 30 people to faithfully recreate the master’s design, which touched on perfection.

Three directors have adapted to different cinematic times in order to shoot for sixteen weeks (two weeks and two more nights left) of the life and work of this Gipuzkoan, the son of a fisherman and a seamstress from Getaria, who is part of the story. fashion and about which they wanted to “go beyond the ‘biopic'”.

“We strike a balance. We imagined some episodes of his life and in what is known about him, we were strict. But you also have to see yourself reflected in the character,” Goenaga explained.

With Alberto San Juan, they had a “negotiation process” until he “made the character his own and also added his layers”. “He gave us a feeling of intimacy, hypuzcoanism, he understood it well,” they say of the Madrid translator, who speaks Spanish, Basque and French in the series.

The actor confirmed this. “Of course, my relationship with him is strained. This is the figure with whom I have had the most connection in the past four months, more than with any flesh and blood being,” he said.

“We feel very comfortable with the psychology of the character, you like him, he also talks to you. Our Cristobal is a man who is frustrated by the lack of control,” added Arregui, who also assured that they had complete freedom and the series would be the same as they would have made even if they did not have the support of Disney+.

Garagno, for his part, explained that they worked as a team much like they did on their films, although the idea was that there would be two directors working on each couple of chapters. “It gets more and more complicated and eventually we all get into everything,” he added.

Alberto San Juan also mentioned the scale of this production, having never worked on a project “of this size and with this amount of funds” and in which he is “first of all very good at command”.

“Such was the dimension, I felt so overwhelmed that I had to act like a loyal, disciplined soldier. It was my way of surviving and continuing to work at the right pace, totally committed to the team,” he said of the role, which has been “an absolute gift of life” for him.

San Juan wasn’t the only option to give life to Balenciaga, but it was one that was placed “on the starting grid” after passing the test, Arregui noted.

The documentation work was exhaustive, they read and saw everything about Balenciaga and collaborated with their “house” in Paris and Miren Arzalluz, fashion designer expert and director of the fashion museum at the Palais Galliera. French capital.

In today’s presentation, the costume director commented that they told her she was very serious. “I didn’t have time to laugh,” said Bina Deigeler, such was the technical effort of her team to study and reproduce the master’s models, to which was later added the approach of couturiers such as Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, which they also appear in the series, such as and Fabiola from Belgium.

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at

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