Balenciaga is a Spanish luxury fashion house founded in 1917 by designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. The company was initially located in the Basque region of Spain before the civil war forced Balenciaga to move his operations to Paris in 1937. Kering acquired a 91% stake in Balenciaga in 2001 for an undisclosed sum. The French multinational then purchased the rights to the perfume brand, which likely made them the sole owner. The Pinault family controls Kering through the Artémis group, which holds a 41.7% stake in the Kering Group.
After Balenciaga’s father passed away while he was a child, his mother became a seamstress to make ends meet.
He reportedly became infatuated with her work and started his journey in fashion by becoming an apprentice at a resort in San Sebastian.
Like many of his contemporaries, Balenciaga was a self-taught prodigy who did not have the luxury of fashion schools or other tools to show him how to design clothing.
The first Balenciaga haute couture house was opened in San Sebastian in 1917. However, the store was called Elisa after a shortened version of his mother’s maiden name.
The second store followed three years later in Madrid.
Balenciaga then moved to Paris and established his first fashion couture house on Avenue Georges V.
He quickly became the city’s most exclusive couturier thanks to his superior garment construction and pattern-cutting skills.
Above all, Balenciaga was known for the way he started a design with fabric rather than sketching it first.
Though an introvert, Balenciaga nevertheless admired and befriended the likes of Christian Dior, Carmel Snow, Diane Vreeland, and Hubert De Givenchy.
In the 1950s post-war period, Balenciaga’s designs incorporated sleek lines which contrasted with the hourglass shape popularized by Dior.
He also pioneered styles that would become his trademarks such as the famous bracelet sleeves and volume-filled balloon hems.
After a successful couple of decades where the company revolutionized fashion, Balenciaga himself closed the fashion house in 1968 and then died in 1972 at the age of 77.
Balenciaga is reborn
In 1986, the cosmetics, skincare, and perfume maker Jacques Bogart SA acquired the rights to Balenciaga from the German company Hoechst AG.
Balenciaga was then relaunched with the first prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) collection under the direction of Michael Goma. In 1997, Goma was replaced by Josephus Thimister who, with Franco-Belgian designer Nicolas Ghesquière, oversaw the company’s transformation into a modern luxury brand.
Who owns Balenciaga today?
Then known as Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, French multinational Kering acquired a 91% stake in Balenciaga in 2001 for an undisclosed sum.
From that point onward, it joined other brands in the Kering stable such as Yves Saint Laurent, Boucheron, and Alexander McQueen.
In 2006, Kering purchased Balenciaga’s perfume brand from The Bogart Group.
While exact details are scarce, the deal likely saw Kering become the sole owner of the company.
- Balenciaga is a Spanish luxury fashion house that was founded in 1917 by designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. The company was initially located in the Basque region of Spain but then moved to Paris when war broke out.
- In the 1950s, Balenciaga’s designs incorporated sleek lines which contrasted with the hourglass shape popularized by Dior. Over this time he developed the trademarks that made the company what it is today. When Balenciaga died in 1972, his company was passed between multiple owners before it was reimagined as a modern brand.
- Kering acquired a 91% stake in Balenciaga in 2001 for an undisclosed sum. The French multinational then purchased the rights to the perfume brand which likely made them the sole owner.
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