Should the general public meditate about what a pleasure is to have the possibility of admiring the work of the one that was claimed “the master of all of us” by Christian Dior.
The Basque Country houses a vast diversity of museums; however, it seems to be difficult to find a gallery in which you can just stare at a cute dress or at a pair of vintage shoes. Yet, there is an up to date unconventional place in Getaria (Gipuzkoa) called “Cristobal Balenciaga Museoa”. The museum is located in the town where the designer was born in 1895. He began to sew thanks to her mother who worked for the Marquesa de Casa Torres and other well-heeled families in the area. The many collections and dresses from Paris and London that he found in these houses introduced Cristóbal to the exquisite and refined European lifestyle. By 1907 he decided to move to San Sebastian in order to improve his sewing techniques. He started to work for some important families and boutiques while he travelled to Paris as a way of becoming familiar with the leading fashion houses in the international capital of fashion. It was in 1917 when he opened his first own house in San Sebastian which was attended by many popular characters such as the Queen Maria Cristina and the Infanta Isabel Alfonsa. Together with the Second Republic in 1931, many Balenciaga’s customers exiled and there was a drastic decline in haute couture. He made many efforts to strength his business, and he foundated different houses such as the one in Madrid at 42 Calle Caballero Gracia and the one in Barcelona at 10 Calle Santa Teresa. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War he left the country and set up in Paris suspending the regular activity in the Spanish houses. By this time he also created his own firma, BALENCIAGA. In 1958 the French Government awarded Balenciaga with the title of Clavalier de la Légion d’honnoeur in recognition of services to the fashion industry. Cristobal designed Fabiola de Mora y Aragón’s, Marquesa de Casa de Torres’ granddaughter’s wedding dress by 1960, and decided to retire and close all his houses 8 years later, after fifty years of work. Finally, he died in Jávea (Alicante) in 1972 and was buried in the small cemetery in his hometown, Getaria.
At the beginning of Cristobal’s career, his works were highly influenced by the styles of the Second French Empire, with clear references to the 17th-century fashion. Spanish traditional and historical forms and techniques were also used at the creative process, in which every clothing item was different from the previous one due to the many details introduced by the designer. When analyzing his work during the 1960s it seems to be clear there is a style change. Although it continues having a traditional inspiration, this time it is combined with ultra modern and abstract forms.
It was on June 2011 when the “Cristobal Balenciaga Museoa” was finally opened. It is a public institution aimed to keep alive and do research into Balenciaga’s works. More than 1.200 clothing items can be found there although only 90 are shown to prevent the other ones from getting damaged, and after a period of time they change all of them. Should the general public meditate about what a pleasure is to have the possibility of admiring the work of the one that was claimed “the master of all of us” by Christian Dior.
The raw material of the museum seems to be a great potential, but nowadays a perfect web communication plan is required in order to foster a start up business. The Balenciaga museum’s plan is based on four well known tools: a webpage, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube account. All of them are somehow connected, insofar as, for example, there is a direct access from the web page to any of the other accounts and vice versa. Every tool has a different aim and also distinct repercussions, and so it is better to analyze them separately.
One out of all of them provides us a great amount of different and useful information, the web page. When entering it, the first item that appears is a menu containing the following issues:
- Balenciaga, in which there is a biography and some information about other collections and expositions.
- Programme, here different events organized by the museum appear.
- Museum, inside this item we find facts about the building and some data. We can also obtain information about the services and a guideline to apply for a job in the museum.
- Support us, this is a space to explain how to become a “friend of the museum”, and to ask for donations and sponsorship.
- Foundation with information about the Baleciaga Foundation: History, mission…
- Communications, this is the space of the webpage in which you can find all publications and press releases concerning the museum.
- Useful information such as how to arrive to Getaria, other museums in the surrounding area…
Clearly, the web page is the tool for everyone that wants to get specific and extended information about the museum. It is a well organized page that can answer almost any question and a good use of it is given thanks to the communication plan that basically consist on underlining their greatest difference: The fact of being a fashion museum. They know they can offer a type of exhibitions and activities that can only be carried out in that gallery, and so they publish many posts advertising diverse theoretical and practical workshop, like the design and textile screen printing lessons. As mentioned, there is also a space called “Support us” in which there is a possibility of becoming a “Friend of the museum”. This means developing customers’ loyalty by offering different advantages such as free admission, priority entrance and 10% discount in every museum activity or publication.
The next tool is Twitter. This account is followed by 2.588 people, which means it is a good way of enhancing general public’s knowledge about the museum. The page has 4.423 tweets, that are not read only by the followers but also by the followers of every one that has retweeted them. Here we find pieces of news related with the gallery and coming events. As well as the webpage is a good tool for those who want specific information, this can be focused on a different public, that part of the society that is not thinking of going to the museum, but can be convinced by reading about it via Twitter.
The role of Facebook is very similar to the one of Twitter; what is more, many tweets have links that guide you directly to a wider publication in the other social network. There are four main sections inside the account. In the first one we find photos about events related with the museum, while the second one remains visitors of the coming workshops and exhibitions. The third one is a list of every tweet sent in the connected Twitter account, and the last one is a chronologically organized gallery of pictures showing Balenciaga’s work. 4.149 people like the Facebook page, and so it has become another important tool to get people into knowing the museum.
Finally, there is also a YouTube channel in which we find videos about the work done inside the museum, videos showing the building and some of the parties carried out inside it and also some workshops.
To sum up, the “Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa” has a very specific communication plan which is based in the originality of the project itself. The use of many different tools allows getting to many different types of public; young people via Twitter, families thanks to the webpage… The diversity of its services; including opening parties, workshops… helps to foster their business and due to some promotions broadcasted by this social network they ensure the loyalty of some of their customers.
- Museo Balenciaga, Wikipedia, http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museo_Balenciaga
- “Cristóbal Balenciaga museoa”, http://cristobalbalenciagamuseoa.com/
- Cristóbal Balenciaga, Wikifashion, http://wikifashion.com/wiki/Balenciaga
- C.Balenciaga Museo, twitter account, https://twitter.com/cbmuseoa
- Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa, facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/cristobalbalenciagamuseoa?fref=ts
- Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa, YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/cbalenciagamuseoa