One of the key influences of the 20th century fashion was Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972).
The Basque couturier, who was self-taught and never sketched a single garment, went from seamstress’s son to being described as “the designer’s designer.”
Born in 1895 in the Basque fishing village of Getaria, he was one of three children whose mother, after the early death of her husband, supported the family by working as a seamstress. Balenciaga was a precocious child, fascinated by his mother’s work and always by her side.
Cristóbal Balenciaga was the consummate professional — a total perfectionist. His garments were not designed to please his customers, but to please himself. Nothing left the premises without his approval.
But it was his dedication to tailoring that gave him a mastery untouched by any other couturier, with the exception of Charles James, for whose technical skills and endless experiments Balenciaga had a great admiration, much like he admired Christian Dior.
Private, introvert and, on the surface at least, austere, Balenciaga dedicated most of his working hours to perfecting and simplifying his cut and line. Like Madame Vionnet, he didn’t sketch and always began with the cloth.
Here are some of our favorite images that share the history of Cristóbal Balenciaga.
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