is a fashion house founded in 1914 by Cristóbal Balenciaga, a Spanish designer, born in the Basque Country. He had a reputation as a couturier of uncompromising standards and was referred to as "the master of us all" by Christian Dior. His bubble skirts and odd, feminine, yet ultra-modern shapes were trademarks of the house. The house of Balenciaga is now owned by the French multinational company PPR.
In 1986, Jacques Bogart S.A. acquired the rights to Balenciaga, and opened a new ready-to-wear line, Le Dix. The first collection was designed by Michel Goma in October 1987, who remained at the house for the next five years to mixed reviews. He was replaced in 1992 with Dutch designer Josephus Melchior Thimister who began the restoration of Balenciaga to an elite, high-fashion status. During Thimister's term, a young Nicolas Ghesquiere would join as a license designer, and eventally promoted to head designer in 1997.
Balenciaga is now owned by the Gucci Group (part of PPR), and its womenswear and menswear is headed by Nicolas Ghesquière. Ghesquiere, like Balenciaga, is a self-taught designer, and apprenticed to Jean-Paul Gaultier and Agnes B. The hip, fresh interpretation of Balenciaga classics, such as the semifitted jacket and the sack dress, caught the attention of the media as well as such celebrities as Madonna and Sinead O'Connor.
There was some conflict within the house of Balenciaga on Nicolas Ghesquiere's designs. The Gucci group said that if Balenciaga didn't become profitable within the year 2007, they would replace him. Ghesquière's F/W 2005 line showed that the house was not only profitable, but also attracted a number of celebrity customers including editor-in-chief at Vogue, Anna Wintour.
The house of Balenciaga designed the dresses worn by Jennifer Connelly and Nicole Kidman to the 2006 Academy Awards, as well as the wedding gown Kidman wore for her recent marriage to Keith Urban. Kylie Minogue also wore a Balenciaga dress for her "Slow" music video and for her concert tour.
Today the brand is most famous for its line of motorcycle-inspired handbags, especially the famous "Lariat." Balenciaga has four exclusive boutiques in the United States. One Balenciaga store is located on 22nd St in New York,NY. A second store is located in Los Angeles, CA on Melrose Avenue. Recently, a third store opened at the famous shopping center South Coast Plaza, in Costa Mesa, CA. This store is 1,200 square feet and includes coffin-like inset displays. The New York and Los Angeles boutiques carry both men's and women's ready-to-wear, while the South Coast Plaza boutique carries only women's clothing. The most recent store, located in Las Vegas inside Caesers Palace, carries only accessories.
Balenciaga's Fall/Winter 2007 show has wowed Teen Voque editor-in-chief Amy Astley so much that an entire recent spread in the magazine, titled "Global Studies" and shot in Beijing, was influenced by it. The line included skinny jodphers, tight, fitted blazers, beaded embellished scarves and other multicultural mixes.
Balenciaga is also very well known for creating avant-garde structural pieces, straddling the edge of fashion and forecasting the future of women's ready-to-wear fashion.