1982Pierre Balmain (born 1914 in St Jean de Maurienne, a small alpine village in the Savoie region of 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 (to appease his mother) 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.
He left Lelong to establish his own house in the autumn of 1945. Balmain’s signature “Jolie Madame” style offered a startling contrast to the relaxed and utilitarian looks of the day – and its immediate popularity made clear that French women were eager to free themselves from the remaining vestiges of wartime hardship and embrace Balmain’s boldly feminine and opulent offering. “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.