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The French Fashion Designer Pierre Balmain

Updated on August 28, 2014

Who Was Pierre Balmain?

A French fashion designer, Pierre Alexandre Claudius Balmain was known for elegance and sophistication. He describes making dresses as 'movement's architecture.'



The father of Balmain who had passed away when the designer was 7 years of age, owned a drapery wholesale business. His sisters and mother operated a boutique of fashion. At the Ecole des Beaux Arts was where Balmain studied to be an architect without completing his degree.

There he spent many hours dress-designing. While going to the Ecole, he also went to Molyneux who was to try him out.

He later left his studies of architecture at Ecole des Beaux Arts and worked for Edward Molyneux from the years nineteen thirty-four to nineteen thirty-nine. Small waists and long skirts shaped like bells was one of the lines that later became popular as the "new look" of Dior.


In the year nineteen fifty-one, he opened United States branches selling clothing ready to wear. In the fifties, the stole was popularized for not just evening wear but also for day wear. He created sheath vogue dresses to wear under jackets.

His designing talents lay in his having the abilities to create tailored, simple suits as well as evening gowns that were grand, all with the same elegant, slender aesthetic lines.Iconic Singapore Girl Singapore Airlines iconic uniforms were also designed by him, based loosely on the traditional 'kebaya' of Indonesia.


Perfumes such as Vent Vert were also made by Balmain. Other successful scents by Balmain include Jolie Madame, ivoire, Eau d'Amazonie and the first one made which had the phone number of the company "Elysees64-83"


Nominated for Best Costume Design Tony Awards, Balmain also won the Outstanding Costume Design Drama Desk Award for the Broadway Show Happy New Year. In addition, other credits from the theater performances of Broadway include those for Josephine Baker and Sophia Loren.


For sixteen films, Balmain was a costume designer for And God Created Woman's Brigitte Bardot. He also designed the wardrobes of Dalida, Mae West and Vivien Leigh.


The House of Balmain


Founded by Pierre Balmain, 'Balmain is a house of fashion that became very popular among celebrities, runways and fashion magazines in the years two thousand eight and two thousand nine. The collection of 2010 featured in the fashion week of Paris was said to bring back the disco era of the seventies and was said to be 'absolutely retro.'

In the period after WWII, Pierre Balmain was the French fashion king and outfitted the first lady of Nicaragua Hope Portocarrero and stars that included Brigitte Bardot and Ava Gardner. Thailand's Queen Sirikit was his most famous client.

After the death of Balmain in the year nineteen eighty two, the house of Balmain was led by Erik Mortensen, who was considered the 'right hand' of Pierre Balmain.

The house was led by Oscar de la Renta between '83 and '02. The house was known for its luxurious, classic designs under de la Renta, Mortensen and Pierre Balmain.

Until the year two thousand eleven, designer Christophe Decarnin led the house with a vision that was edgier and more modern. He was later succeeded by Olivier Routeing.

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    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for telling me more about this fashion king!

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