Balenciaga is a fashion house founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga, a Spanish designer, born in the Basque Country. He had a reputation as a couturier of uncompromising standards and was referred to as "the master of us all" by Christian Dior. [cite news | last =Menkes| first =Suzy| title =Miuccia Prada: 'The mistress of us all'| publisher = International Herald Tribune | date =2006-02-27| url =| accessdate = 2007-03-11 ] His bubble skirts and odd, feminine, yet ultra-modern shapes were trademarks of the house. The house of Balenciaga is now owned by the French multinational company PPR.


Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his first boutique in San Sebastián, Spain, in 1914,cite web | title =Cristóbal Balenciaga | publisher = Victoria & Albert Museum | url = | accessdate = 2007-03-11 ] which expanded to include branches in Madrid and Barcelona.cite web | last = Charleston | first =Beth Duncuff | title =Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972)| work=Timeline of Art History| publisher =Metropolitan Museum of Art | date = Oct. 2004 | url =| accessdate = 2007-03-11 ] The Spanish royal family and the aristocracy wore his designs, but when the Spanish Civil War forced him to close his stores, Balenciaga moved to Paris.

The designer house is now run by Nicolas Ghesquière.

Balenciaga opened his Paris couture house on Avenue George V in August 1937, and his first runway show featured designs heavily influenced by the Spanish Renaissance. Balenciaga's success in Paris was nearly immediate. Within two years, the French press lauded him as a revolutionary, and his designs were highly sought-after. Carmel Snow, the editor of "Harper's Bazaar" was an early champion of his designs. [cite book | last =Rowlands | first =Penelope | title =A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life In Fashion, Art, and Letters | publisher =Atria | date =2005 | pages = 286 and elsewhere | url =]

Customers risked their safety to travel to Europe during World War II to see Balenciaga's clothing. During this period, he was noted for his "square coat," with sleeves cut in a single piece with the yoke, and for his designs with black (or black and brown) lace over bright pink fabric.

However, it was not until the post-war years that the full scale of the inventiveness of this highly original designer became evident. His lines became more linear and sleek, diverging from the hourglass shape popularized by Christian Dior's New Look. The fluidity of his silhouettes enabled him to manipulate the relationship between his clothing and women's bodies. In 1951, he totally transformed the silhouette, broadening the shoulders and removing the waist. In 1955, he designed the tunic dress, which later developed into the chemise dress of 1958. Other contributions in the postwar era included the spherical balloon jacket (1953), the high-waisted baby doll dress (1957), the cocoon coat (1957), the balloon skirt (1957), and the sack dress (1957). In 1959, his work culminated in the Empire line, with high-waisted dresses and coats cut like kimonos. His manipulation of the waist, in particular, contributed to "what is considered to be his most important contribution to the world of fashion: a new silhouette for women."

In the 1960s, Balenciaga was an innovator in his use of fabrics: he tended toward heavy fabrics, intricate embroidery, and bold materials. His trademarks included "collars that stood away from the collarbone to give a swanlike appearance" and shortened "bracelet" sleeves. His often spare, sculptural creations—including funnel-shape gowns of stiff duchess satin worn to acclaim by clients such as Pauline de Rothschild, Bunny Mellon, Marella Agnelli, Gloria Guinness and Mona von Bismarck—were considered masterworks of haute couture in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1960 he designed the wedding dress for Queen Fabiola of Belgium made of ivory duchess satin trimmed with white mink at the collar and the hips. Jackie Kennedy famously upset John F. Kennedy for buying Balenciaga's expensive creations while he was President because he feared that the American public might think the purchases too lavish. Her haute couture bills were eventually discreetly paid by her father-in-law, Joseph Kennedy.

Cristóbal Balenciaga left the house in 1968.

Expand|date=March 2007

Balenciaga today

Balenciaga is now owned by the Gucci Group (part of PPR), and its womenswear and menswear is headed by Nicolas Ghesquière. [cite news | last =Menkes| first =Suzy| title =Nicolas Ghesquiere, a Creative Young Spirit in the Master Class, Balenciaga: Reviving and Revering| publisher = International Herald Tribune | date =2001-11-20| url = | accessdate = 2007-03-11 ]

There was some conflict within the house of Balenciaga on Nicolas Ghesquiere's designs. The Gucci group said that if Balenciaga didn't become profitable within the year 2007, they would replace him.Fact|date=March 2007 Ghesquière's F/W 2005 line showed that the house was not only profitable, but also attracted a number of celebrity customers including editor-in-chief at Vogue, Anna Wintour.

The house of Balenciaga designed the dresses worn by Jennifer Connelly and Nicole Kidman to the 2006 Academy Awards, as well as the wedding gown Kidman wore for her recent marriage to Keith Urban. [ [ Kidman and Urban: happy marriage or misalliance?] ] Kylie Minogue has also worn a Balenciaga dress for her "Slow" music video and for her concert tour. [ [ Barco MiPIX and LED displays chosen for exclusive Kylie concert.] ]

Today the brand is also famous for its line of motorcycle-inspired handbags, especially the famous "Lariat". Balenciaga currently owns only three boutiques in the United States their U.S. headquarters in New York on W 22nd St., Honolulu, and Los Angeles. A Boston and Orange County, CA boutique are planned to open in the coming months.

Balenciaga's Fall/Winter 2007 show has wowed Editor in chief of Teen Vogue Amy Astley, so much that a spread in Teen Vogue named "Global Studies", shot in Bejing, was influenced by the recent line, including skinny jodphers, tight, fitted blazers, beaded embellished scarves and other multiculti mixes.

Balenciaga is also very well known for creating avant-garde structural pieces, being on the edge of fashion and in the future of ready to wear.


Balenciaga only has two operating boutiques in the United States. One in NEw york and the other in LA.

External links

* [ Official Balenciaga Site]
* []
* [ Balenciaga News]
* [ Paris Fashion Show 2007: Balenciaga Catwalk]
* [ Professor Aiko Beall of Otis College of Art and Design on Balenciaga]
* [ Balenciaga perfumes] at Eccys
* [ How to spot fake Balenciaga]
* cite web |publisher= Victoria and Albert Museum
title= Interactive timeline of couture houses and couturier biographies

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • BALENCIAGA (C.) — BALENCIAGA CRISTOBAL (1895 1972) Issu d’un modeste village de pêcheurs en Espagne, Balenciaga, «le couturier des couturiers», est devenu l’arbitre de l’élégance parisienne. Soucieux de rejeter les effets faciles alors que dans le contexte de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Balenciaga —   [ θi̯aɣa], Cristóbal, spanischer Modeschöpfer, * Guetaria (bei San Sebastián) 21. 1. 1895, ✝ Javea 23. 3. 1972; unterhielt 1937 68 in Paris einen Salon der Haute Couture. In seinen Modellen griff Balenciaga vielfach auf Elemente des spanischen… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Balenciaga — Cristóbal Balenciaga Cristóbal Balenciaga Eizaguirre, né le 21 janvier 1895 à Getaria petit village de pêcheurs de la côte basque espagnole et décédé le 23 mars 1972 à Valence, était un grand couturier espagnol. Son style… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Balenciaga — Cristóbal Balenciaga (* 21. Januar 1895 in Getaria, Spanien; † 23. März 1972 in Jávea, Spanien) war ein einflussreicher Modeschöpfer der Haute Couture. Balenciaga wurde als Sohn eines baskischen Fischers und einer Näherin geboren. Gefördert durch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Balenciaga — noun Spanish fashion designer known for his stark elegant designs (1895 1972) • Syn: ↑Cristobal Balenciaga • Instance Hypernyms: ↑couturier, ↑fashion designer, ↑clothes designer, ↑designer …   Useful english dictionary

  • Balenciaga — /beuh len see ah geuh/; Sp. /bah len thyah gah/, n. Cristóbal /kri stoh beuhl/; Sp. /krddee staw vahl/, 1895 1972, French fashion designer, born in Spain. * * * …   Universalium

  • Balenciaga, Cristóbal — Ba·len·ci·a·ga (bə lĕn sē äʹgə), Cristóbal. 1895 1972. Spanish fashion designer noted for his stark, elegant designs. * * * born Jan. 21, 1895, Guetaria, Spain died March 23, 1972, Valencia Spanish French fashion designer. He studied dressmaking… …   Universalium

  • Balenciaga, Cristobal — (1895 1972)    Born in Guetaria, Spain, Balenciaga opened his first salon in Madrid in 1920. Civil war broke out in Spain in 1936 and Balenciaga was forced to close his three couture houses and relocate to Paris. In 1937, he presented his first… …   Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

  • Balenciaga, Cristóbal — (21 ene. 1895, Guetaria, España–23 mar. 1972, Valencia). Diseñador de modas francoespañol. De niño estudió el arte y oficio de la costura. Una visita que realizó a París fue su fuente de inspiración para volcarse al diseño de modas. A los 20 años …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Cristóbal Balenciaga — Cristobal Balenciaga, 1950 Born January 21, 1895(1895 01 21) Getaria, Gipuzkoa, Spain Died …   Wikipedia

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