Balenciaga

A luxury fashion house founded in 1919 by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga in San Sebastian and bought by French luxury group Kering.

Categories

Fashion and Textiles  
Retail and Consumer Goods  
Summary

A Paris-based couture and ready-to-wear house owned by Kering Group and helmed by current creative director Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia Balenciaga is one of the most avant-garde, popular brands on the luxury fashion map today.


History

Born in a fishing village in the Basque region of Spain in 1895 Cristóbal Balenciaga began his career in fashion as a tailor in Madrid. In 1937, he moved to Paris and opened his couture house on Avenue George V. Balenciaga's pre-teen training ensured he was a hands-on couturier and pattern-cutter but it was his sheer originality and creativity that ensured his legacy. His design aesthetic has always been compelling, particularly in pattern-cutting.

The iconic French fashion house Balenciaga defined the concept of modernity and elegance through the fashion designer's mastery of craft techniques and the use of innovative fabrics. His first fashion show featured designs influenced by the Spanish Renaissance and its immediate success resulted in potential customers travelling to Europe during World War II to see his showings and buy the collections!!

Per Vogue: "The woman who owns a single Balenciaga, the woman who has never owned an original—both have been converted to the enduring greatness of The Idea. The informed cutting, the superb construction inside and out. The colors of the bull ring… [Cristobal Balenciaga’s] serene loyalty to established themes with the subtlest variations. The use of tonality… [He] combines with drama—for which he has a Spaniard's quick sensitivity—a worldly sense of discretion. His high standards have created a new level of excellence that reaches everyone."

In the post-war years, his creative genius reached its apogee as he diverted from the "new look" of Christian Dior and pioneered sleek lines and linear structures. His manipulation of the waist0 in particular- was his most important contribution to the world of fashion, creating a new silhouette for women. The sack, the babydoll and the balloon dress are just some of his creations. Balenciaga closed his atelier in 1968 and sadly passed away in 1972. 

In 1986 Jacques Bogart S.A. acquired the rights to Balenciaga and launched 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. He was replaced in 1992 with Dutch designer Josephus Thimister who began the restoration of Balenciaga to high-fashion status. During Thimister's term, Nicolas Ghesquière joined as a licensed designer and was promoted to head designer in 1997. Under Ghesquière, Balenciaga became one of the most coveted labels of the naughties, worn by luminaries as diverse as Anna Wintour, Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman. The luxury fashion brand became known for its line of motorcycle-inspired handbags, especially the "Lariat” and for its avant-garde, advanced structural pieces, straddling the edge of fashion and forecasting the future of women's ready-to-wear fashion. 

This notoriety has become even more pronounced since Ghesquière’s departure in 2012. He was first replaced first by Alexander Wang and then by Demna Gvasalia who was appointed by Francois-Henri Pinault in 2015 to take the helm at heritage house Balenciaga. Demna continues to live up to his reputation as a modern-day enfant terrible of luxury, reinterpreting both the house archives and M. Balenciaga's originals to disrupt the classics and create his own newfound aesthetic. His subversive design aesthetic has found brand ambassadors in stars like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Always at the forefront of the cutting edge… Balenciaga announced that it accepts crypto payments in May 2022.

The luxury fashion brand remains on-trend, with projects becoming bolder and more experimental. Demna understands how Generation Z is thinking — and where he can take it from there. Last year, Balenciaga and Epic Games announced a collaboration to bring the brand’s apparel into the world of video games. Interestingly the partnership has physical manifestations including a fashion campaign and a line of merchandise. Shortly after, Demna struck again. While presenting Balenciaga Spring Summer 2022 at Paris Fashion Week he dropped a never-before-seen episode of The Simpsons.. with characters Marge, Homer, Bart, Lisa and the rest of the cast wearing the newest looks!!

That's not all. The French luxury brand has the memo on sustainability. Balenciaga Spring Summer 2021 was environmentally friendly due to its focus on up-cycling and repurposing. A press release specified: "93.5 per cent of the plain materials in this collection are either certified sustainable or upcycled. 100 per cent of the print bases have sustainable certifications." The Kering-owned fashion house is also the latest to use mycelium instead of leather as the industry experiments with alternative materials. Per Vogue: "Balenciaga sent a black, hooded wrap coat down the runway during its Autumn Winter 2022 show, set against a swirling snowy backdrop. Made from bio-based material Ephea and on sale for €9,000, the coat marks the luxury brand’s first release using a leather alternative made from mycelium…"

As he blurs the boundaries between fashion, art and social commentary, Demna also blurs those between high fashion and streetwear. He’s not the first to do so, of course; but his own approach is so uniquely cheeky and self-aware that it feels fresh and new. That’s what’s kept Balenciaga so hot in the past few years. Those who get it, get it. And those who don’t know they’re missing out on something. And it’s that something – that je ne sais quoi – that makes the brand so identifiably special.


Mission

Balenciaga's mission is to reimagine the modern wardrobe and subvert the traditional codes of couture and ready-to-wear.


Vision

The Balenciaga vision of luxury is that clothes are to be worn rather than collected; for desirability, subversion, and practicality to co-exist in garments of the utmost relevance.


Key Team

Cédric Charbit (Chief Executive Officer)

Ludivine Pont (Chief Marketing Officer)

Demna Gvasalia (Creative Director)

Martina Tiefenthaler (Chief Creative Officer)


Recognition and Awards
2017 CFDA Fashion Awards: International Award (Demna for Vetements and Balenciaga). 2018 Fashion Awards: Accessories Designer of the Year (Demna for Balenciaga). 2021 CFDA Fashion Awards: Global Women's Designer (Demna for Balenciaga).

Products and Services

Luxury fashion brand Balenciaga retails haute couture, ready to wear and fashion accessories.


References
Balenciaga
Leadership team

Cédric Charbit (Chief Executive Officer)

Demna Gvasalia (Creative Director)

Martina Tiefenthaler (Chief Creative Officer)

Ludivine Pont (Chief Marketing Officer)

Industries

Fashion and Textiles

Retail and Consumer Goods

Products/ Services
Haute Couture, ready to wear and fashion accessories
Number of Employees
1,000 - 20,000
Headquarters
40 Rue de Sèvres, 75007, Paris, France
Established
1919
Company Registration
3344631
Revenue
Above - 1B
Traded as
Euronext Paris: KER
Social Media

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Mon Feb 26 2024
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