Christian Dior was born on this date in 1905 – interestingly, he shared a birthday with the man he referred to as ‘the master of us all,’ Cristobal Balenciaga.
Balenciaga was born in a Basque fishing village in 1895. His mother was a seamstress and young Cristobal no doubt spent time watching her work. At 12, he was apprenticed to a tailor and in his teens came to the attention of the local nobility, the Marquesa de Casa Torres, who paid for him to study in Madrid.
He quickly became a successful designer, but the civil war forced him to go to Paris and it wasn’t until the ’50s that he reestablished himself as an outstanding designer. He was one of the few in the business who could design, cut and sew his own fashions.
Balenciaga was a favorite of Jackie Kennedy’s, but for political reasons (not buying American and spending too lavishly), her bills were paid by her father-in-law.
He retired in 1968, closing his houses in Paris, Barcelona and Madrid, but the Balenciaga name was bought by Gucci in the ’80s and reinvented. A vintage Balenciaga, however, is as pricey as a vintage car.
One other birthday of note and here he is forty years ago (is that Peter Ustinov in the other chair?):