"'Madame,' he told her, 'I am a beginner, and I have no money. I have sent out my invitations and I cannot afford to send telegrams everywhere to cancel them. You were supposed to have your showing last week: could you possibly select another date?'
'Of course,' she said at once."
Thanks in part to the kindness of Madame Gres, that first show was a roaring success. Balmain's demure style -- sophisticated, elegant, refined + tasteful -- earned him a devout clientele. Throughout the seasons, his exploration of fabrics + forms while staying true to his fashion ideal earned him a spot in the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture + secured him an eternal place in fashion history.
Pierre Balmain, 1949
Gertrude Stein at the Balmain salon, 1947
Pierre Balmain salon, 1954
Throughout the 1950s, Balmain continuously explored the striking silhouette of a train + the contrasts of lace with silks + furs.
Lace gown with fur trimmed coat, L'Art et la Mode 1951
Star brooch strapless gown with train, 1951
Beaded silk satin gown with train, 1952
1950s beaded lace gown with silk sash/train
Marilyn Monroe in a nearly identical gown by William Travilla
getting ready for the 1953 premiere of How to Marry a Millionaire
Lace halter gown, 1952 | Plunging lace gown with fur trimmed coat, L'Officiel 1952
1954 white lace gown with black sash
Floral lace gown, 1953 | Floral silk satin strapless gown with massive train, 1953
1950s train back gown | 1954 illustration of train back gown
1953 lace gown with bustle-back train, Metropolitan Museum of Art
1952 silk gown with train, Kent State Museum
Understanding the potential of the international market, Balmain traveled extensively, eventually opening boutiques around the world. He opened his first US boutique in New York City in 1949. While extremely successful, the boutique lasted a mere 4 years.
1953 Pierre Balmain New York ad in L'Officiel
We are pleased to offer this stunning example of Pierre Balmain demi-couture from that NYC boutique.
The gown itself features a strapless sweetheart neckline with scalloped edges and gathered "modesty" panel in the bust with slinky fitted skirt and flared mermaid hem. Made entirely from pale blush colored lace with rose colored backing and pale petal pink attached silk train. The attached gathered sash leads to a magnanimous cascading silk train that drags the ground. The train also has a small finger strap hidden beneath so that it can be carried when walking (or more importantly, dancing). Also includes the matching leather backed, lace belt and bolero.
Available at http://www.bustownmodern.com or by calling the store at 323.951.0290.
Click HERE for part 2 of this blog post, Pierre Balmain -- ...to Lesage