Reeling Back The Years - History Of Fashion House Balenciaga 9 years ago

Reeling Back The Years - History Of Fashion House Balenciaga

Cristóbal Balenciaga, founder of fashion house Balenciaga, wanted women of strong character to wear his designs.

So devoted were his clients that one in particular, Countess Mona Bismarck, mourned the designer's retirement in 1968, by cloistering herself in her room for three days.


This brand is known for setting trends rather than following them: Cristóbal pioneered the baby doll, tunic and waistless 'sack' dress while later Nicolas Ghesquière launched the Lariat handbag in 2001.

Model Kate Moss was the first to carry it,ensuring that waiting lists for this 'IT' bag were off the Richter scale.


Quotes - Cristóbal Balenciaga


"Elegance is elimination"

"A ruffle must be intelligent"

Christian Dior was in awe of rival Cristóbal Balenciaga and once said "Haute couture is like an orchestra, whose conductor is Balenciaga,” he once said. “We other couturiers are the musicians and we follow the directions he gives.”




Balenciaga began when Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his first boutique in San Sebastián, Spain in 1918, which expanded to include branches in Madrid and Barcelona.

When the Spanish Civil War forced the boutiques to close, he moved to Paris.

Here, his success was almost immediate with customers travelling across Europe risking their safety, during a wartime period, to see his designs.


However, it was not until after the war that his inventiveness as a designer was fully realised.


The lines of his designs were sleek and linear, moving away from Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ which had championed the hourglass shape.

The tunic shift, cocoon coat and high-waisted baby doll dress are just some of the designs he created after the war.

His attention to the female waist and the different looks he used to complement it attracted huge attention and is “considered to be his most important contribution to the world of fashion: a new silhouette for women."


After a hugely successful career, Cristóbal Balenciaga closed his fashion house in 1968 and died in 1972. The house lay dormant until 1986.

Change Of Direction

That year, Jacques Bogart S.A. acquired the rights to Balenciaga, and opened a new ready-to-wear line, Le Dix.

The first collection was designed by Michel Goma in October 1987, who remained at the house for the next five years amid mixed reviews.

He was replaced in 1992 with Dutch designer Josephus Thimister who can be credited with beginning the restoration of Balenciaga to an elite, high-fashion status.

However, neither of these designers achieved the same success as Cristóbal Balenciaga.

During Thimister's term, Nicolas Ghesquière would join as a license designer, and eventually was promoted to head designer in 1997.

Ghesquière, like Cristóbal, designed clothes for 'strong' women and his work attracted the attention of Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Kate Moss, Chloë Sevigny, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, individual and unique trendsetters, became ardent fans as well as muses.

Balenciaga: Runway - Paris Fashion Week Spring / Summer 2012

Taking inspiration from Balenciaga's early work, Ghesquière told Vogue in 2006 that he was inspired by “all the extreme part of Balenciaga’s work: the overdecorated pieces, the organic pieces, and the futuristic, absolutely abstract pieces.”

Cargo pants, Lego-like heels and Lariat handbags were just some of the trends that he launched.

On November 5, 2012, Balenciaga announced that it was parting ways with creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, and Alexander Wang took over as creative director.

Wang showed his first collection in Feburary 2013, he honoured Cristóbal Balenciaga's legacy, showing a beautiful collection that honoured the founder's fashion legacy.

"I just did what was coming from my heart," he explained to Elle magazine. "You don't always have to do everything at once."

He added, "Women still want something that feels liberating, that feels new, that feels inspiring. Women want to be seduced."


Celebrity Fans

Today Balenciaga has many celebrity fans including Sienna Miller, Jennifer Garner, Katie Holmes and Chloë Sevigny.

The Kardashian sisters: Kim, Khloe and Kourtney are big fans of Balenciaga bags, particularly the City model, as is Nicole Richie who is often pictured carrying one of these beauts.

Kristen Stewart is currently the face of Balenciaga perfume, Rosabotanica.


Alexander Wang has brought a new dimension to the revered Balenciaga name: youthful, edgy and wearable yet still eminently stylish.

Gisele Bundchen walked for Balenciaga's autumn winter 2014 collection last week in Paris, with Wang showing an elegant yet modern line.