Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972), the most universal Spanish fashion designer, was born in Guetaria. He was the son of a seamstress who conveyed good taste and the secrets of the dressmaking to him. In 1914 he opened his first fashion house in San Sebastian, followed some years later by others in Madrid and Barcelona.
In 1937 he became established in Paris, where he gained inmediate success with his collection for that same year. Success did not abandon him until he retired some three decades later.
Throughout his life he was in search of a continuous renewal of shapes and harmony between proportions and colours, with an obvious predilection for sumptuous fabrics enriched with lace and hand-embroidered. His garments were made with great mastery and virtuosity.
In 1968 he refused to make prêt-à-porter collections and withdrew from a competition that had nothing to do with his idea of elegance, expertise and beauty.