Fashion Designer BALENCIAGA, date of creation: 1937 It is not surprising that Spain has produced a genius like BALENCIAGA, capable of the most daring innovations in a superbly classic style. What is surprising is that this Spaniard became the leading French fashion designer.
His story began something like a legend : born in 1895 in Guetaria, a small fishing village on the Spanish Basque coast, Cristobal BALENCIAGA was still very young when it became apparent that he was destinated for Couture.
At the age of thirteen, he astounded the Marquise of CASA TORRES with his comments on her elegance. Realising his interest in Couture and his aesthetic potential, she allowed him to make a copy of the Haute Couture clothing she was wearing. Trembling, he did his work so well that she awarded him by wearing it.
The following year he travelled to Paris. In a daze, he devoured the collections of DOUCET, WORTH, DRECOLL and others.
Upon his return and at the age of sixteen, he opened his first Couture workshop in San Sebastian, where he adapted the Parisian Style for Spanish women.
In 1915, the first fashion house was opened in San Sebastian under the name BALENCIAGA.
In 1920, the second house opened in Madrid. He left Spain when the civil war broke out and established himself in Paris, where, in August
1937, he opened his showrooms at 10 avenue George V. From the start, a style was created which lived up to its expectations for thirty glorious years. BALENCIAGA himself sums it as follows : a Couturier must be an architect for design, a sculptor for shape, a painter for color, a musician for harmony, and a philosopher for temperance . Year after year, the one they call the couturier of couturiers created astonishment with his collections and the mastery of his cuts. He changed women’s silhouettes.
1945 : close-fitting waistlines, square shoulders.
1951 : open necks, wide shoulders, looser
waistlines. All these features created the BALENCIAGA revolution . He also left his imprint on various periods : coasts with wide collars, tunic dresses, sack dresses in the 50’s.
He also turned his flair to the creation of prestigious perfumes. This man, whose exceptional talent never tired in its quest to achieve even greater harmony between the body and clothing, always knew that the true sign of elegance, the ultimate refining touch, lay in the subtle, delicate notes of a fragrance.
In 1947, he created his first perfume : LE DIX from the famous couturier’s address at 10, avenue George V. Only someone of his quality could be all this at once.
Both a dandy and a recluse, he watched his collections displayed from behind a white curtain, becoming a mythical figure who only a privileged few ever had the pleasure to know. And not out of snobbery or affectation. Such man cares little for the world. Rather the world comes to him, and only the finest at that.
His most faithful clients included : the Queen of Spain, the Queen of Belgium, the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace of Monaco, all regularly recognized in the press as the best-dressed women in the world.
On May 12, 1958, he is made Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur . In the late 60’s : at 74, after working in Paris for 30 years, he decided to retire and closed his fashion houses in Paris, Barcelona and Madrid, one after the other.
His last public appearance in Paris was for the funeral of Coco Chanel, who once said that BALENCIAGA is the only couturier able to design, cut, assemble and sew a dress together entirely by himself .
On March 24, 1972, the undisputed Master of all the great couturiers – the man who inspired GIVENCHY, UNGARO, SCHERRER, COURREGES and many others – passed away in Valencia.
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