Balmain was founded in 1945 by Pierre Balmain. When he founded the house, he made a revolution both in the way in which the female figure was understood and the place a woman had in the world. Monsieur Balmain boldly feminine and opulent signature style created a startling contrast to the utilitarian look of the day. His designs created a super-feminine and distinctive DNA for the brand house. Relied on richly embroidered fabrics, nipped-in waists, and fuller skirts, the designs that he signs are transforming his Parisian house into one of his favorite ones, both for European and Hollywood royalty.
The brand’s beginnings
As we mentioned before, the history of the Balmain brand starts in 1945. The designer, Pierre Balmain started his post-war career at the atelier of Lucien Lelong. He was there working alongside other popular designer names such as Dior and Hubert de Givenchy. After a few years of experience, he left the atelier in order to form his own fashion house. The success came rapidly. His mastery of couture techniques made it possible for him to fast-grow his fashion house.
After his first collection was presented in front of the eye of the world, many fashion knowers saw an awakening to a new understanding of what the role of fashion really is.
The designer and his vision to create the Balmain Brand Identity
Pierre Balmain is not only a fashion designer who began the Balmain fashion house. He is also the creator of the brand’s identity.
Pierre was born in the Savoie region of France, in 1914. He studied architecture in Paris. Once, he recognized fashion as his true calling, he dedicated his passion to creating fashion designs. In 1934, he took a position as a sketch artist with the fashion house of Robert Piguet.
After he worked a few months there, he left and continued his fashion designing activities as an assistant designer for the House of Molyneux. He worked there up to 1938. From 1939 to 1945, he worked as a designer with Lucien Leong in Paris. While working for Lelong, he had the chance to meet Christian Dior, another renowned fashion designer-to-be. He is one of the designers that have left an enormous impact on Balmain’s career.
The foundation of the House of Balmain
During the Second World War, we can for sure say that fashion was described with terms such as strictness and modesty. Once Pierre Balmain founded his luxurious fashion house, things changed. The designees that he presented to the world were nothing but lavish and luxurious. They were all in strict contrast with everything that was seen on the fashion scene during the war times. His high fashion brand founded in 1945 under the name Maison Balmain came with a lucrative sideline of fragrances as well. From Paris to America, the expansion took about a decade. In 1953, the brand expanded to the American market, showcasing a collection under the name of Jolie Madame. In 1960, the perfume business was sold to Revlon. However, Pierre Balmain continued to perform as a proprietor and creative director of the Balmain fashion house.
The post-Balmain era and the History rewriting
After the death of the founder, Pierre Balmain, the fashion house continued in business with several designers during the 1980s. One of the biggest changes that the fashion house faced was in 1982 when it added a ready-to-wear line. Until that moment the Balmain fashion house was exclusively catered to private clients.
Another change that happened after the death of Pierre was the reacquisition of the perfume business of the house, which was previously sold to Revlon in 1960.
The fashion house was unwisely entered into some extensive licensing agreements that have put Balmain’s name on a wide range of products, hence diluting the image of the fashion house.
Oscar de la Renta Era in Balmain Fashion House
In 1993 Oscar de la Renta took on the position of creative director of the Balmain fashion house. That was a really monumental moment in the history of the fashion house. One of the reasons was the fact that Oscar de la Renta was an American, and he was the first American ever to be posted as a head designer of a Parisian fashion house.
His first collection was presented on the runways in 1994. It was critically and commercially acclaimed. But, all the critics agreed that he had done a good job and managed not only to revive the company’s fortunes but also to restore the old reputation for elegance that Balmain has set at the beginning.
In 2002 he presented his last collection under the label of Balmain, after which he was succeeded by Laurent Mercier and Christophe Lebourg.
A new page in Balmain history: the birth of Balmania
Oscar de la Renta, as well as Pierre Balmain, catered to private clientele the most. But, his successors, especially Cristopher Decarnin, decided to rewrite the brand in his own way. He decided to focus on evening wear, making sparkle the brand’s new focal point. His new craze was known under the label Balmania.
The next fashion designer who has the chance to rule Balmain, Oliver Rousteing, is the one currently occupying the creative director post. He is one of the directors that launched the fashion house among the iconic ones.