The brand story of fashion house Balenciaga
Almost everyone knows the brand Balenciaga. Cardi B even sings about the brand in her popular song ‘I like it’. She sings “I like those Balenciagas. The ones that look like socks.” Where she refers to the Speed Sneakers from Balenciaga. But where did this brand come from?
The master behind Balenciaga is Cristóbal Balenciaga. He was born in 1895 in Spain. In 1917 he opened his first Haute Couture House called ‘Eisa’, which was short for his mother’s maiden name. Because of the civil war he had to move to Paris, where he opened a new store in 1937. This is where the brand Balenciaga was born. The presentation of the first collection was a big success by the press and buyers.
In the 50s and 60s Balenciaga was known for there big and unusual shapes. Unlike other designers he used fluid lines, broad shoulders and big volumes. With the wearability, precision and allure of his garments he earned a spot in mainstream fashion at the time. Balenciaga was known for the Cocoon coat, Balloon skirt and the Sack dress. Cristóbal didn’t start a design with sketches like most other designers. He started with the fabric right away and created garments like that.
In 1960 Balenciaga designed the wedding dress for Fabiola De Mora Y Aragón when she married King Baudouin I of Belgium.
After those successful years there came a more quiet period and Cristóbal Balenciaga passed away in 1972. For a few years nothing happened till the Bogart Group gained ownership over Balenciaga House in 1986. They hired Michel Goma as creative director. He created a colorful ready-to-wear collection called Le Dix.
In 1992 Josephus Thimister, who you can see below, became creative director and he elevated the status of Balenciaga to high-end. Eventhough he did so he ruined his career at Balenciaga with a runway show in 1997 where the audience walked out.
His follow-up was Nicolas Ghesquière who was creative director between 1997-2012. He is known for creating the ‘IT’ bag Lariat, the gladiator boots and hyper-floral prints. During his time at Balenciaga he really put himself on the map as a designer. During this period of time the Global Luxury Group Kering acquires the Balenciaga House.
In the period between 2012-2015 Alexander Wang was the creative director. He gave the brand a very American and youthful twist. He brought back a lot of the traditional silhouettes with the big and unusual shapes.
Currently Demna Gvasalia
Currently Demna Gvasalia is the creative director. He mixed Balenciaga’s avant-garde approach and his affinity towards comfortable streetwear and created oversized, voluminous, playful and functional clothes. His mission is “Luxury clothes to be worn, not moth balled; product that is desirable without losing its integrity as something practical.”
That is also how we know Balenciaga nowadays. Big oversized T-shirts, chunky shoes (Triple S sneakers) and kimono style ropes. We can’t wait to see what this brand does in the following years.
Want to buy a second-hand Balenciaga item yourself? Find a vintage Balenciaga gem here.