Uber-stylish, glamorous, sophisticated; effortless… the list goes on when talking about Cristobal Balenciaga; born in Guetaria, Spain 1865.

In 1919, he opens his first salon in San Sebastian and begins to dress Spanish royalty. Sadly, with the fall of the monarchy and rise of Civil War in 1936, Balenciaga moved his art to Paris, where he established the house of Balenciaga at 10 Avenue George V.

Although he never created a signature style; compared to Dior’s infamous ‘New Look,’ Balenciaga was proclaimed to be “a couturier in the truest sense of the word. Only he is capable of cutting material, assembling a creation, and sewing it by hand. The others are simply fashion designers.”  – Coco Chanel.

An interesting character socially; as he was only ever interviewed once by Prudence Gylnn in 1971 and was never seen at his catwalk shows.

He was highly respected within the industry, for the quality and originality that was present in his designs.  Also, a breakthrough by designing for a range of sizes and ages to suit different women; which highlighted the advantages of what other designer’s lacked.

Balenciaga favoured the tunic and chemise style as they flattered the wearer. His tunic design was long and worn over a skirt.  The chemise was known as the “sack,” it was waist less and puffed at the back giving ease of movement. He adapted to the social changes in society as World War Two caused women to enter the work environment.

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Using limited buttons and components this made Balenciaga’s designs easier and more comfortable to wear, corseting was only used in evening dresses and necklines were cut lower at the back to flatter older women.


Balenciaga reshaped the female silhouette as he became innovative and experimental with construction techniques. Creating the ‘one seam coat’ in 1961 exposed his creativity and fashion forward approach. His work towards developing textile technology advanced his work as he used substantial and cutting edge fabrics.

In the 1960’s he experimented and was the first designer to use mohair and synthetic fibres; ‘papacha’ was handmade tufted mohair from zika ascher and was seen on front page of French Vogue in 1964. He also liked to use silk gazar as the stiff properties made it easier to sculpt.


The piece inspires and attracts me the most with embroidery detail and technique. The delicate and subtle use of colour adds simplicity and elegance to the design.



(n.d.). Retrieved october 19, 2013, from balenciaga:

(n.d.). Retrieved oct saturday, 2013, from lamabgalamanga:

(n.d.). Retrieved from voguepedia:

(n.d.). Retrieved from balenciaga: Balenciaga.html&ei=McdeUtSGBYK3hAfNp4FI&usg=AFQjCNGqFS_YGBh9Vxi3n4QBJ0UYF52Zkg

(n.d.). Retrieved from interview with balenciaga :

(n.d.). Retrieved from

the fashion book. (1988). phaidon.

Miller, L. E. (2007). Balenciaga . v&a.

tissus, m. h. (1986). hommage a balenciaga. herscher.

walker, m. (2006). balenciaga and his legacy. meadows museum dallas.

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