Dressed in Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld and photographed by Peter Schlesinger.
Issue 3 Out Now!
The great haute-couture house of Cristobal Balenciaga will close next month. A spokesman for the salon, which is on Avenue George V, finally confirmed the closing.
It was hard to understand what the woman said on the telephone for she sobbed as she spoke, breaking down into tears when she tried to talk. Private orders from the last collection, shown in February, will be filled. And then—probably in June—the doors of the house that 73-year-old Balenciaga has made the citadel of the haute couture will shut—maybe forever.
Only two weeks ago one of the designer’s employees issued a stinging denial of the closing rumors, which had been circulating both here and in New York for some time.
But it is believed that Balenciaga has perhaps nothing left to achieve professionally and is closing the house because he is bored.
His prestige with private clients has never faltered, although in the last few years American buyers have occasionally felt that his clothes looked too familiar, “too old” compared with the younger, more commercial creations that other Paris houses showed, and “too traditional.”
“We are desolated,” Jean-Claude de Givenchy said today when he heard the news, “we cannot express our distress.”
Mr. Givenchy was speaking on behalf of himself and his brother Hubert De Givenchy, the couturier. Hubert is a Balenciaga protégé and disciple.
Before his death, Christian Dior called Balenciaga “our master.” And Coco Chanel, the doyenne of Paris couturiers says:
“The others are just draftsman or copyists, or else they are inspired people or even geniuses, but Balenciaga alone is a couturier. He is the only one who can design, cut, put together, and sew a suit or a gown entirely alone.”
New York fashion leaders are equally upset.
“When history is written,” said Nancy White, editor of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, “his contribution has to be recognized as one of the greatest in fashion. We shall miss him.”
Jessica Daves, former editor of Vogue, attributes part of his success to what she calls “his Spanish way of thinking.”
“He has the best attitude towards women.” Miss Daves said. “He believes in elegance and ladies. I don’t think he ever did a vulgar thing. He doesn’t believe in sudden changes.”
Andrew Goodman, president of Bergdorf Goodman, said:
“It’s a tragic loss to the fashion world—the end of an era. He was a strong voice for elegance. He never compromised for a minute.”
- from THE NEW YORK TIMES, MAY 23, 1968
Having learned the ropes from the mistress of 7th Avenue herself, Anne Klein, she was well schooled in the ins and outs of sportswear separates where styling is as essential as the design itself. Fashioning herself into the embodiment of the easy, confident, and sensual Anne Klein woman — the working woman who’s style and class matches her ambition and chutzpah, Karan created a unique personal style of her own. Now shrouded in vaguely ethnic (by way of Tibet, I guess) drapery in olive green, ocher, and anthracite cashmere jersey topped off with wooden necklaces and bangles, her own style was once as bold as the feminist proclamations she built her fashion career on. Relentlessly keen, even in the late ’80s, understanding a new current of street fashion and urban living, she adopted her DKNY persona, full of the street swagger and boisterous bravado that only she could pull off.
He was the odd man out among Bernard Arnault’s string of sea changes; having put McQueen in at Givenchy, Galliano at Christian Dior, and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, shaking up his collection of venerable French luxury brands by handing them over to some of the most irreverent designers of the time. Though just as compelling, Kors’ appointment to Celine lacked the sensationalism those other designers could command. He had no grunge collection, no bumster pants, no theatrical displays of London street energy. He was not, as those designers were then, at the forefront of defining a post-modernist attitude towards luxury. He only had his clothes: well designed and well made, clothes that worked for the wearer and that, in their lush fabrics and exquisite detail, oozed luxury from every seam and stitch rather than by lofty suggestion or subversive association. It’s a focused idea of luxury based on the tenets of simplicity and classicism, an idea of luxury that about 14 years later is perhaps even more compelling as the whole market becomes besieged by the bright and effusive allure of fashion and spectacle.