October 7, 2022

“Balenciaga”, the series that “wants to be more than a ‘biopic'”

San Sebastián, Sept 22 (EFE).- It can be said of Cristóbal Balenciaga that everything is known about his work as a master of haute couture and almost nothing about his private life. In one or the other, directors Jon Garaño, Aitor Arregi and José Mari Goenaga have researched to build “with respect and rigor” the main character of their first television series.

The project has been developed as a Disney+ original production, tackling the first locally produced series, and with the actor Alberto San Juan as the absolute protagonist of “Balenciaga”, which will have six chapters, will premiere in 2023 and under whose latest additions is that of the musician Alberto Iglesias.

The framework of the Festival of San Sebastian served this Thursday to present this project directed as a team by the directors of «Handia», a film with ten goyas, and «La trench infinite», which won two, and in which the Basque producer Xabier Berzosa also participates.

Together with them, they participated in the act, which took place in the San Telmo Museum, the vice president of the original production of Disney + Spain, Sofía Fábregas; co-writer and creator, Lourdes Iglesias; and costume director Bina Daigeler, who has led a team of 30 people to faithfully recreate the designs of a master who has achieved perfection.

The three directors have adapted to different cinematographic times to cover sixteen weeks – there are still two weeks and two nights to go – the life and work of this Gipuzkoan, the son of a fisherman and a seamstress from Getaria, who is part of the history of fashion and what they want to “go beyond the ‘biopic'”.

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

With Alberto San Juan, they carried out “a negotiation process” until he “homed the character and contributed his layers as well”. “He gave us the sense of belonging, of Gipuzkoanism, he understood it well,” they say of the interpreter from Madrid, who speaks in Spanish, Basque and French in the series.

The actor has confirmed it. “My relationship with him is, of course, intense. It is the figure with whom I have had the most connection over the past four months, more than any creature made of flesh and blood,” he said.

“We’re very comfortable with the psychology of the character, it speaks to you, it speaks to you too. Our Cristóbal is a person who is frustrated by the lack of control,” added Arregi, who also assured that they have had total freedom and that the series will be the same as they would have filmed, even if they did not support Disney+ .

Garaño, for his part, explained that they worked as a team in the same way as in their films, although it was intended that two directors would work for each pair of chapters. “It’s getting more and more complex and eventually we’re all going to have to deal with everything,” he added.

Alberto San Juan has also referred to the scale of this production, having never worked for a project “of such magnitude and with so many resources” and in which it is “above all very well mastered”.

“That was the dimension, so overwhelmed I felt I had to act like a loyal, disciplined soldier. It was my way of surviving and continuing at the pace it required, absolutely committed to the team,” he noted of this role, which was “an absolute gift of life” to him.

San Juan was not the only option to bring Balenciaga to life, but it was the one that was “placed on the starting grid” after doing the test, Arregi stressed.

The documentation work was exhaustive, they have read and seen everything that exists about Balenciaga and have had the collaboration of their “maison” in Paris and that of Miren Arzalluz, an expert in fashion designer and director of the Palais fashion museum Galliera of the French capital city.

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

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