Coco Chanel once described Cristóbal Balenciaga as "a couturier in the truest sense of the word." He studied dressmaking as a child and by his 20th birthday had his own salon in Spain where he would become the country's leading couturier, dressing the Spanish royal family and aristocracy. Inspired by the masterwork of Spanish painters, Balenciaga was known for his extravagant austerity, marrying couture and modernism. He wanted his clients to feel free, comfortable, and at ease. Balloon dresses, kimono-sleeved coats, semi-fitted suits that only skimmed the body's natural shape became some of the most influential looks of the twentieth century.
"A couturier must be an architect for design, a sculptor for shape, a painter for colour, a musician for harmony, and a philosopher for temperance."