Cristóbal Balenciaga ~ 1895-1972 Fashion Designer
Biography of Cristóbal Balenciaga, fashion designer
The rich and titled Casa Torres family from Madrid occupied a villa in Guetaria during the summer and Cristobal played with the children of the household. Their grandmother, the Marquesa de Casa Torres was an elegant woman who, when the boy was in his early teens, and already enthralled with beauty and elegance, allowed him to copy one of her Drecoll suits. From the moment he delivered his copy, the Marquesa was Balenciaga’s patron.
In 1909 he travelled to Paris where he absorbed the images of collections by Doucet, Worth, Drecoll, and many more great Fashion Houses of the time. Back in San Sebastian in Northern Spain in 1911 he worked in a fashion shop. Soon he had a tailoring shop of his own, financed by the Marquesa, then three, in Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1937 he left Spain for Paris, where he prospered for 30 years creating wonderful designs. He opened his Maison de Couture at 10, Avenue Georges V, Paris.
In 1938, his was the place to go for dresses that according to Harper’s Bazarr, “fitted the figure like a wet glove”, and many of his black jersey hip-draped dresses looked ahead to a prevalent forties silhouette. For evenings he showed ball gowns with skirts a “mile wide” held out not by hoops but by crinolines and petticoats”.
The 1940′s is where our collection of designs begins, and we hope it will be an ever continuing journey, for his style is truly that of a great Fashion Icon. 1941 – Embroidered Evening Dress.
1944 – Artist Christian Berard.
In 1945 the style chosen was square shoulders and close fitting waistlines. In 1946 the Artist: Christian Berard painted this with a Spanish theme.
1946 – The ultimate red dress for high impact at any gathering.1947 – Balenciaga created Le Dix a perfume using the number of the address on the Avnue George V, Paris.1948 – Evening gown with black bodice and long black gloves.Balenciaga was always carefully scrutinizing the figure as well as the cut, and ever so carefully relating the two in a genuinely creative manner. His Fashion House built up some of the most elegant women of the postwar years. Some of his Client’s included the Queen of Spain, the Queen of Belgium, The Dutchess of Windsor and Princess Grace of Monaco. They were all recognised as some of the best dressed women in the world.In the 1950′s he designed coats with wide collars , tunics and sack dresses.1957 – A pink ball gown with an unusual curved hemline.
1958 – Balenciaga was awarded a Chevalier de La Legion d’Honneur. His last appearance was at he funeral of Coco Chanel who once said ” that Balenciaga was the only Coutourier able to design, cut, assemble and sew a dress together entirely by himself”.
In 1968 Balenciaga decided to close the Fashion House.