Before the present, past : IV

  1. PB

    Who is Pierre Balmain ?


Hello to all.
First I hope you wear well and the weekend was good.
To start the week on my blog, I wanted to feed one of my favorite topics,
Before the present, Past (Au commencement le passé in French)

I still need to know where we start to dig the furrow for a new path on the basis of what the elders did, from where this section that aims to feed me of our peers, and to assume their influences.

It is good to always keep in mind that fashion is a perpetual renewal.

Before arriving at Pierre Balmain I wrote about Charles Fréderick Worth Charles Fréderick Worh and Courrèges André Courrèges 03, but also Madeleine Vionnet . If you have time and curiosity necessary not hesitate to have a look on these items.

Today when you hear La maison Balmain you immediately think Olivier Rousteing (to which I will devote tomorrow’s article) and Kendal Jenner and lots of celebrities.

Before reaching this hyper peopolisation of La maison Balmain, I wanted to return to the origins and beginnings is Pierre Balmain.

Who is Pierre Balmain?

Pierre Balmain is a French fashion designer born in 1914 and died in 1982.


Before founding his own house, la maison Balmain, he worked at the great fashion designer and perfumer influential, Lucien Lelong (1889-1958).

…………………….Lucien Lelong Lucien Lelong

The latter agrees to the release of the 2nd World War with Christian Dior to give a breath to high fashion that was then under extinction in France, a direct consequence of the war.

In the history of fashion, Lucien Lelong is extremely important because it is the inventor of kinetic cut, sometimes called kinematic or kinoptique.

Of this line can be said to reach the woman’s body in a fluidity almost dramatic.


N'sqol - Au commencement le passé - P.Balmain

Visually the body seems almost liquefy, or rather, the garment more precisely.


The other particularity Lelong‘s work is in minimalism and blueprint of the cut.

The brand The Row I often talk that is the hallmark of the Olsen sisters is unquestionably inherited the work of Lucien Lelong.

I propose some example of the work of Lucien Lelong whose silhouettes influenced film noir US and French of the 40s and 50s.

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For Pierre Balmain working at Lelong is very formative.

Fairly quickly, Pierre Balmain feels the need to steal his own.

After a few years in Lelong, in 1945 he opened the BALMAIN house and its creations stand out from his apprenticeship with Lucien Lelong because he creates clothes for very sober cuts, but the cuts close to the body and dark colors we would call today muted colors.

Après quelques années chez Lelong il ouvre en 1945 la maison BALMAIN et ses créations se démarquent de son apprentissage chez Lucien Lelong car il crée des vêtements aux coupes très sobres mais aux découpes près du corps et de couleurs sombres qu’on appelleraient aujourd’hui des couleurs sourdes.

This way of designing clothes so became his hallmark and his fame was launched.

With hindsight, doing research I realized that there was something rebellious in his work for the day.

Create clothes that embrace the bodies of women and make them extremely sensual it was a gamble and he emerged victorious from the risk he took.


Balmain woman for the time already had in her freedom, power, immense independence. She was elegantly unruly and rebellious.

Balmain has built a new vision of the woman who has continued to evolve while remaining timeless.

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Famous designers have gone through La maison Balmain and one of the most famous who worked at Balmain in its beginning (mid 50s) was Karl Lagerfeld.

Karl Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld

Then the late Oscar de la renta (who created the Amal Clooney wedding dress) gave back between 90 and 2000 a second breath to La maison Balmain while seeking renewal for La maison Balmain « lost » its superb reputation after the death in 1982 of its founder Pierre Balmain.

….Oscar De la Renta
Oscar De la Renta

La robe de mariée de Amal Clooney par Oscar De la Renta
La robe de mariée de Amal Clooney par Oscar De la Renta

Amal Clooney‘s wedding dress by Oscar de la Renta

Here is a short slide creations designed by Oscar de la Renta for Balmain

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The irreverent and rebellious tradition of signing Balmain made a big comeback with the arrival of Christophe Decarnin following the departure of De la Renta in 2008.

Christophe Decarnin en 2010
Christophe Decarnin en 2010

Christophe Decarnin while modernizing the silhouette Balmain by incorporating jeans and urban influences, has still taken many codes specific to Pierre Balmain, one of whose most famous are those women with an exacerbated sensuality, an immense femininity, and who wear clothing with the minimal cut but the details are in the matter of fabric.
The other code also own the House Balmain are very structured shoulders that give power to women and making sure not to masculiniser.

La femme Decarnin pour Balmain
La femme Decarnin pour Balmain

We must recognize the paternity of this cut structured to Erik Mortensen.

N'sqol - Au commencement le passé - P.Balmain
Erik Mortensen

He was the right arm of Balmain early as 1951 and he took the reins of the house Balmain after death of its founder until the arrival as artistic director of Oscar de la Renta in the early 90s.

Here is an overview of his work when he worked at Balmain.


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I specify nonetheless that even if we should this structured cut to Erik Mortense, structured jackets with wide shoulders were already present in American and French film noir as Mildred Pierce and some others that you can see just below.

Le Roman de Mildred Pierce
Le Roman de Mildred Pierce

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Decarnin goes further and Balmain woman is both glamorous, chic but especially with a rebellious rock attitude. She has a look at the image of the seat of a woman with a thousand lives and which has completely emancipated from patriarchal straightjacket.

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Christophe Decarnin laid the foundations for « the woman Balmain 2000s » that Olivier Rousteing developed with unquestionable firepower.

Tomorrow I conclude my vision of the house Balmain with Olivier Rousteing.

Olivier Rousteing

Je vous embrasse and I start writing the rest of the article for tomorrow.



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