Cristóbal Balenciaga (1896-1972) started in the fashion business as a tailor in Spain. In 1917, he established Eisa Fashion House, named for his mother. He left Spain due to the Spanish Civil War, and went to Paris. There he opened his couture house in 1937. The business was closed from 1940 until 1945, but reopened after the war. Balenciaga retired in 1968, and died four years later.
He was known for his sculptural approach to design. The cut and construction was often quite complicated, but the result was seemingly simple. He was called “the master of us all” by Christian Dior.
Noted designers who worked for Balenciaga included Oscar de la Renta, Andre Courrèges, and Emanuel Ungaro. Hubert de Givenchy was his most famous protégé.
After Balenciaga’s death, the rights to the label were acquired by a German firm, who produced clothing under the label until 1986. The House of Balenciaga was purchased and relaunched with a ready to wear line of clothing in 1987. Michel Goma was creative director from 1987 until 1992. He was succeeded by Josephus Thimister, Nicolas Ghesquière and Alexander Wang. In 2015, Demna Gvasalia became the new creative director. The luxury group Kering is the current owner of Balenciaga.
“Balenciaga abides by the law that elimination is the secret of chic.” Harper’s Bazaar, 1938
See also: Eisa
Written by fuzzylizzie and updated by the VFG in 2022
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