Cristobal Balenciaga 1
“The Couturier of Couturiers”
Rebecca R. Alexander
Youngstown State University
The World of Fashion
September 21, 2006
Cristobal Balenciaga 3
In the small fishing village of the Basque region of Spain, Cristobal Balenciaga was born in Guertaria, in the year of 1895. He continued to stay and design in Spain for next 31 years, where he opened his first haute couture house in San Sebastian, Spain, in 1918. Cristobal acquired such an audience for his designs that he opened a second haute couture house in Madrid, followed by a third in Barcelona between 1933-1935. Soon to follow his success, the Spanish Civil War had begun in 1936, forcing Balenciaga to close his three couture houses, and move to London, England.
Between the years of 1937-1938, Cristobal Balenciaga finds his muse in the city of Paris, where he began to reside. It was in the ‘City of Love’ that Balenciaga opened a haute couture house at 10, Avenue George V, which continues to be the address for his main couture house. Cristobal’s Parisian line became an instant success, which enabled him to reopen his three previous houses in Spain. It was also in London that Balenciaga’s designs had become so respected and famous, that designer Christian Dior gave him the title, ‘The Couturier of Couturiers’.
As fate would have it, World War I had began, and between the years of 1940-1945, his collections had been forced into reduction. As Balenciaga would have it, in 1945, he participated in the Theatre de la Mode, an exhibition that helped keep Parisian couture on the map. Of course, it worked. The following year, Balenciaga gave birth to “Le Dix”, named after Paris’ couture residence, and was the first of three perfumes he created. It was in that same year that Cristobal’s house came out with the Barrel Line. This was a suit designed for women that was worn over a sheath skirt.
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