Balenciaga is a French fashion house founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga in 1914. The house is well known for creating avant-garde structural pieces, straddling the edge of fashion and forecasting the future of women's ready-to-wear fashion. Several designers who worked for Balenciaga would go on to open their own successful couture houses, notably Oscar de la Renta, Andre Courreges, Emanuel Ungaro, and Hubert de Givenchy. Cristóbal had a reputation as a couturier of uncompromising standards and was referred to as "the master of us all" by Christian Dior. His bubble skirts and odd, feminine, yet ultra-modern shapes were trademarks of the house. It was not until the post-war years that the full scale of the inventiveness of Balenciaga became evident: the fluidity of his silhouettes enabled him to manipulate the relationship between his clothing and women's bodies. His manipulation of the waist contributed to what is considered to be his most important contribution to the world of fashion-- a new silhouette for women.
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