Everything You Need To Know About Cristóbal Balenciaga Before You Watch The New Disney + Biopic - The Gloss Magazine

Everything You Need To Know About Cristóbal Balenciaga Before You Watch The New Disney + Biopic

One of the 20th century’s most mysterious designers is featuring in a must-watch Disney+ series landing this weekend …

Cristóbal Balenciaga was a superstar of 20th-century haute couture. Coco Chanel admired him, and Dior called him “the master of us all.” His impact on fashion was profound; he created some of the most long-lasting silhouettes from the sack dress to the envelope dress as well as practical flattering cuts for different body shapes. A noted perfectionist, he famously believed, “Elegance is elimination. A woman has no need to be perfect or even beautiful to wear my dresses. The dress will do that for her.”

That said, he dressed the world’s most elegant women including Mona von Bismarck, Gloria Guinness, Ava Gardner, the Duchess of Windsor, Jackie Kennedy, Bunny Mellon, Grace Kelly. Editors Carmel Snow and Diana Vreeland were buried in their favourite Balenciaga suit; the latter called him “the greatest dressmaker that ever lived.”

He was most known for cape dresses, slashed necklines, funnel necks – created for women who wanted to conceal their necks (he was as skilled as any plastic surgeon at perfecting the human silhouette). Women of a certain age were his most frequent customers and his designs in tulle, Chantilly lace and guipure became synonymous with sophistication and refined elegance.

Yet he remained mysterious, shunning the limelight and publicity – he gave one interview to The Times fashion editor Prudence Glynn in 1971 which can best be described as vanilla, rather than revealing.

Born in Getaria, northern Spain in 1895, Cristobal began his apprenticeship as a tailor at the age of twelve. He launched his own dressmaking establishment in San Sebastián in 1917 (where the Balenciaga museum is a must visit). When the Spanish Civil War forced him to close these premises, he moved to Paris in 1937 where he reigned supreme (bar a brief stint in Madrid) until his retirement in 1968.

The new Disney+ series, Cristóbal Balenciaga, which lands on the streaming platform on January 19, begins when he moves to Paris, with Spanish actor Alberto San Juan in the titular role. The series will hopefully shed some light on this intensely private man; much like The Crown, it promises to blend politics with aesthetics, charting the demise of rarefied haute couture salons.

No doubt the series will focus on Balenciaga’s puritanical perfectionism. He called his condescending house models “monsters” and insisted that magazines used them for shoots. They specialised in “a disagreeable air” which Balenciaga believed a truly distinguished woman always has.

One thing is for sure: expect an uptick in baby doll dresses – first designed by Balenciaga in 1957, and characterised by their trapeze-shaped silhouette without a marked waist. Flattering and forgiving, this puffy, curve free dress has been reinvented countless times since its creation.

Need to know: Cristóbal Balenciaga written by Lourdes Iglesias begins on Disney+ from January 19. www.disneyplus.com.

Photographs via Disney+.


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