Three women model evening dresses by designer Balenciaga, inspired by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec paintings,
New York, New York, 1951.
(Photo by Gjon Mili/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
He was the greatest couturier in his time, whose work was highly appreciated by his contemporaries, and those outfits were admired by his clients. He was a true man of the past, whose works allowed others to look into the future of fashion ... And this is not just a story about eye-catching dresses, but also about the great master of Haute Couture.
A Spaniard, Balenciaga never failed to give passionate drama to the dress, imparting history and dance and ceremony in lace and in silhouette. He was one of the most innovative figures of the 20th-century fashion. Cristóbal Balenciaga was born in the Basque village of Getaria, Spain, the son of a fisherman and a seamstress. He established the House of Balenciaga in 1937, attracting a sophisticated and dedicated clientele, including royalty and Hollywood stars.
The king is dead. When Women's Wear Daily ran this headline in March 1972 no one in the fashion world would have had any doubt as to whom it referred. There was only one king of couture, the one whom Christian Dior called "the master of us all", while Coco Chanel said he alone was "a couturier in the truest sense of the word… The others are simply fashion designers." Vogue summed it up in 1962: "Almost since the first day he launched his salon in 1937 he has been acclaimed as the great leader in fashion; what Balenciaga does today, other designers will do tomorrow, or next year, by which time he will have moved on again."
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My name is Edīte Parute and I am a fashion historian and researcher from Latvia, association member at "The Association of Dress Historians" (UK) and author of the book "Stila un modes enciklopēdija"/"Encyclopedia of Style and Fashion" (2010) as well as author of many publications.