Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972) was a Spanish Basque fashion designer and the founder of the Balenciaga fashion house. His impact on fashion has been profound. Yet to the world at large he remains an enigma. He is not associated with a signature outfit, like Coco Chanel, nor with a pivotal moment, like Christian Dior and the New Look of 1947, nor a cultural phenomenon like Vivienne Westwood and punk.
From the moment he opened his Paris house, his clothes struck a note of simplicity that at times had a regal presence, at others a graphic grace. He reshaped women’s silhouette in the 1950s, so that clothes we think of as typical of that decade are mostly dilutions of his work.