Throughout its long history, the quintessentially Parisian house of Balmain has managed to retain its unique position as both a historic French house and as a leading trendsetting brand that others look to as a reference.
Pierre Balmain (born 1914 in France) is a member of the elite group of visionary designers that guided French fashion to its renaissance after World War II. After briefly studying architecture, Balmain began his career in fashion as an assistant to master Parisian couturier Lucien Lelong, working alongside fellow greats Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy. Balmain’s signature “Jolie Madame” style offered a startling contrast to the relaxed and utilitarian looks of the day.
“Jolie Madame” quickly became a favorite style of both European and Hollywood royalty. The world’s greatest actresses turned to Pierre Balmain to design their cocktail dresses, evening gowns and wedding dresses. Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Brigitte Bardot, Josephine Baker, Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich and Sophia Loren were some of the many stars drawn to Balmain’s richly embroidered fabrics, nipped-in waists and longer, fuller skirts.
Pierre Balmain’s beautiful atelier and showroom at 44 Rue Francois 1er, in the heart of Paris’ exclusive “triangle d'or” neighborhood, has remained the house’s iconic flagship address throughout its history. In 2009, the historic boutique was restored to its original 18th-century grandeur by Parisian architect Joseph Dirand.