A sparkling life of the monumental fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga
When Cristóbal Balenciaga died in 1972, the news hit the front page of The New York Times. One of the most innovative and admired figures in the history of haute couture, Balenciaga was, said Schiaparelli, "the only designer who dares do what he likes." He was, said Christian Dior,"the master of us all."
But despite his extraordinary impact, Balenciaga was a man hidden from view. Unlike today's celebrity designers, he saw to it that little was known about him, to the point that some French journalists wondered if he existed at all. Even his most notable and devoted clients―Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Hutton, a clutch of Rothschilds―never met him.
But one woman knew Balenciaga very well indeed. The first person he hired when he opened his Paris house (then furnished with only a table and a stool) was Florette Chelot, who became his top vendeuse―as much an adviser as a saleswoman. She witnessed the spectacular success of his first collection, and they worked closely for more than thirty years, until 1968, when Balenciaga abruptly closed his house without telling any of his staff. Youth-oriented fashion was taking over, Paris was in upheaval, and the elder statesman wanted no part of it.
In The Master of Us All , Mary Blume tells the remarkable story of the man and his house through the eyes of the woman who knew him best. Intimate and revealing, this is an unprecedented portrait of a designer whose vision transformed an industry but whose story has never been told until now.
About Mary BlumeSee more books from this Author
In her penetrating and entertaining new biography...Ms. Blume acknowledges that, even in his heyday, Balenciaga was something of a cipher.Read Full Review of The Master of Us All: Balenci... | See more reviews from NY Times
What she has produced is a book of elegant layering and cultured vivacity.Read Full Review of The Master of Us All: Balenci... | See more reviews from WSJ online
...I would urge everyone who has an interest in fashion on any level to read this book. Ms. Blume will also stimulate the reader interested in Monsieur Balenciaga’s way of life, his circle of friends, and his rarefied client list...Read Full Review of The Master of Us All: Balenci... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books
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