• Solange McKenzie

Balenciaga: Changing Women's Fashion Since 1917

Cristobál Balenciaga

Cristóbal Balenciaga, nicknames the King of Fashion, opened his first boutique for his house, Balenciaga in Spain during 1917. Balenciaga was very well known for his attention to structural designs and tailoring. Before moving to Paris during the Spanish Civil War Balenciaga's designs were worn by Spanish Royals and Aristocrats. In addition to being a designer he was a teacher and mentor. Some of his students include Oscar de La Renta, André Courréges, Emanuel Ungaro, Mila Schon, and, most notably, Hubert de Givenchy. Balenciaga and Givenchy introduced the sack dress to the world. Balenciaga also added the York coat, the babydoll dress, the cocoon coat and the balloon skirt, which like the sack dress gave variation to womenswear silhouettes during the 1950's.

Balenciaga Sack Dress, 1957

Balenciaga also butted heads with the press. Typically designers sent in designs a few weeks before their release in stores. He was one of the first designers to decide to send his designs to the press the day before they released in stores. He made this decision because he felt it would help stop designs from being stolen. Eventually Balenciaga changed his mind and returned to the usual schedule.

Balenciaga Black Gazar Cape, 1967

Balenciaga retired in 1968, following Creative Directors include, Michel Goma, Josephus Thimister, Nicolas Ghesquiére, Alexander Wang and presently, Denma Gvasalia. Currently Balenciaga is owned by Kering.

-Solange McKenzie

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