Cristóbal Balenciaga: designer, couturier and artist
Balenciaga: life and work
Born in 1895 in Guetaria, Guipuzcoa, he lost his father, a local fisherman, at the age of 11. Therefore, from an early age he began to help his mother, a seamstress in a noble house, learning the profession and falling in love with sewing and pattern making.
From a very young age he turned his life to the art of fashion, moving to San Sebastian to train in the profession of couturier. At that time, the city was the favorite summer resort of Queen Maria Cristina, thus attracting a large number of well-born families, who immediately noticed the gift that Cristobal Balenciaga, designer and artist, had with sewing. This was how he entered the world of Haute Couture, creating pieces for the wealthiest families in the country.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Balenciaga was exiled to Paris, where he continued to create wonderful works of art and generating friendship with the great masters of couture. Personalities who, on numerous occasions, declared him a genius. For example, Christian Dior baptized him as “the master of all” and called him “the orchestra conductor, in which the rest of the designers are the musicians”. Similarly, Hubert de Givenchy considered him “the architect of haute couture” and Coco Chanel did not hesitate to describe him as “the only one of us who is a true couturier”.
A tour of the best designs of Cristóbal Balenciaga
The Spanish artist and couturier obtained most of his learning from his mother. Although, his skills reached such perfection that no one ever knew how he could have acquired them.
In the same way, Cristóbal Balenciaga, designer and couturier of great recognition, created a school in the design of women’s dresses.
In fact, he knew how to find the perfect harmony between the preservation of the female anatomy and the rise of the new silhouette of women. He managed to differentiate himself from the rest, playing with volume and architecture, overlapping fabrics in ways that were absolutely innovative at the time.
An indispensable genius in the history of fashion, and an unknown in his private life. He was always reluctant to give interviews and kept away from the press at all times. In fact, he always made it clear that “prestige is more important than fame. Prestige remains, fame is ephemeral”.
Silence and meticulous work reigned in his workshops. In the same way, she bet heavily on low heels, skirts below the knee and three-quarter sleeves, making her signature clear in each design.
He always preferred haute couture and made-to-measure design, being reluctant to join the world of ready-to-wear, and so it was until the day he retired and closed the Balenciaga brand. It is said that the designer always remained faithful to haute couture and never created ready-to-wear garments. For this reason, Cristóbal Balenciaga is considered the father of haute couture.
A true 'couturier', remembered all over the world
Despite the closure of the firm in 1968, his designs and recognition never disappeared from the fashion world. In this way, and after several attempts to revive the firm, finally Nicolas Ghesquière knew how to represent the essence of the master and returned the firm to the top of the luxury brands.
Today, fortunately we are lucky enough to be able to see many of the designer’s original works at the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum, located in his hometown, Guetaria. Although, many of his works continue to be the centerpiece of many other exhibitions around the world. A whole set of museums and galleries that, whenever they can, do not miss the opportunity to pay tribute to the great master of couture.
In fact, we recommend you to visit the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona. Until October 3 you can enjoy an exhibition focused on Balenciaga’s hats. It displays more than eighty pieces and a dozen sets that define the authenticity and taste of the artist. If you come to see it, you will fully understand his way of working, as well as the importance of this accessory to distinguish themselves in the social and cultural context of the time. You can not miss it!
22 February 2024