design / essay

Fashion of the 50s and 60s (Part 3)

Originally posted on Mid Century Modern Groovy


Pierre Balmain
Pierre Balmain

Pierre Balmain

[1]Pierre Balmain was born in 1914 at Saint-Jean de Maurienne in France. His father was in the drapery business and his mother ran a fashion boutique with her sisters with the name, Galeries Parisiennes. He started early by studying architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts while also doing drawings for the designer, Robert Piguet. He ceased his studies in 1934 after the offer and acceptance of a job by Edward Molyneux. During World War II Balmain joined Lucien Lelong where he met Christian Dior who was a great influence on Balmain’s designs.

Balmain furthered the career Karl Lagerfeld, whom he hired, and he worked with Margit Brandt. The house of Balmain was established in 1945 and promoted styles similar to the fashions of Christian Dior, such as gowns with long, sleek skirts and slim waists. Balmain’s success was assured after a glowing write up in Vogue Magazine by his good friend, Gertrude Stein.


Like many of the major fashion designers of the time, Balmain furthered his commercial success by cultivating famous and well-connected clients, the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn, to name just a few. Balmain received numerous awards for design, but also for costumes for film and stage such as for Sophia Loren in The Millionairess (1960) and Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman. He created clothes for Vivien Leigh, Josephine Baker and Mae West, as well as designing uniforms for airlines and Olympic teams. His gowns have remained popular and still are seen worn by celebrities.


Pierre Balmain died of liver cancer in Paris in 1968 after completing the season’s sketches.





Jacques Fath


Jacques Fath

Jacques Fath

[4]Born in 1912 in Maisons-Laffitte, France, and died in Paris in 1954, Fath was one of the three top prominent French designers including Dior and Balmain. Fath came from a creative family with designers and painters among those in his tribe. He had no formal training in fashion design and learned the trade through museum exhibitions, books and hands-on experience.


He hired talented designers that went on to fabulous careers on their own. Among those whom he recognized as gifted are Givenchy, Laroche and Garavani.


Initially his start could easily be described as modest, barely scraping by. Nevertheless, the glitteratti began to frequent his salon and by the time his fame spread, the model, Geneviève Boucher, his wife and himself frequently were seen among the influential in society. Fath was extremely trendy and could anticipate upcoming fashion directions. His parties and events were large, well publicized affairs, full of celebrities and luminaries.
























Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s