Cristóbal Balenciaga founded Balenciaga in 1917, at the age of 22.
Forced to leave his country because of the raging Civil War, he first moved to London, before choosing Paris, where his creation almost instantly became the stuff legends are made of.
He created the “Tonneau” line, and the semi-fitted suit in the 50s, a decade spent toying with shapes and volumes. The Balenciaga style, striped down, almost ascetic, reflects the craftsmanship of the man whom Christian Dior referred to as “our master”. Hubert de Givenchy called him “Couture’s great architect”. The House’s reputation kept on thriving until the designer passed away, in 1973, leading to difficult times for the brand.
Josephus Thimister became its artistic director in 1991, and started modernizing the House’s image until 97, when Nicholas Ghesquière was named to replace him. The French designer brought with him a peculiar futuristic esthetic that helped him restore Balenciaga’s stature. It was only 15 years later, in 2012, that Ghesquiere passed on the creative torch to Alexander Wang. The hype designer went back to Balenciaga’s core esthetic, modernizing it with his minimalistic eye. Three years later, Wang left his seat in favor of Demna Gvasalia.
The young Georgian designer, an Antwerp Fine Arts graduate and former Maison Margiela designer, is also leading figure of the VETEMENTS collective, and reinvented the House’s codes with his satirical sense of provocation.
Fall/Winter 2016 Balenciaga collection
Somewhere between ostentatious and proletarian, Gvasalia has invented the new Balenciaga woman. For Fall/Winter 2016 she’s both a socialite in a sporty down jacket, and an austere fetishist librarian, carrying around a gigantic colorful shopping bag, albeit one made of refined lamb leather, bien-sur.
Deconstructed coats hanging from the shoulders, like opulent wraps, sensually unveil them. Elaborated classical checkered suits expand the hips and lift the shoulders. The fashion designer has reinvented body structure.
These everyday women of the world, donned in ironic sensuality, have shattered every single aspect of the House into pieces, only to better redefine the very DNA of the Maison.