Many designers contributed to the Parisian fashion world after World War II, but Spanish designer Cristob‡l Balenciaga was seen as the king, with top designers like Coco Chanel and Christian Dior regarding him with reverence. Balenciaga was trained as a tailor, and he gained the unique reputation of cutting and sewing his own fashion designs.
His career began when he founded Balenciaga y Compania in Spain in 1918, but the Spanish Civil War pushed him to Paris, where he rose to prominence after World War II. He established the House of Balenciaga in 1937. From Flamenco ruffles to Infanta dresses with wide skirts, Balenciaga's innovative designs were characterized by bold Spanish and refined French influences.
In 1947, the design house released its first fragrance, known as Le Dix. The elegant perfume was named after the street on which Balenciaga's Parisian boutique resided. Later, perfumes by Balenciaga were made in conjunction with Domitille Bertier, Jean-Christophe Herault, Francoise Caron and other perfumers.
To keep other designers from copying his work, in 1957, Balenciaga began showing his collections to private buyers one month before presenting them to the public. Although the designer closed his haute couture houses in 1968, just four years before his death, as of 2014, the company continues to release innovative clothing, accessories and fragrances. Throughout his career, Balenciaga helped to popularize chemise dresses, empire waistlines and tunic dresses.