Paris-based journalist and author Mary Blume last month released The Master of Us All: Balenciaga, His Workrooms, His World. This lovely book tells a really fascinating inside story of the great and intensely private Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. A good deal of Blume’s research was primary source material — her name was Florette Chelot and she was a vendeuse at Balenciaga, one of the first he hired and who stayed on for more than thirty years until he closed his business in 1968. Blume first met Chelot as a young writer newly arrived in Paris, looking for an affordable suit at Balenciaga. Florette Chelot helped her find it. Decades later, Blume recorded Chelot’s memories of the designer, his fashion house and his life right up until her death at age 95 in 2006. After reading her book, I was reminded of the wonderful and very special 2010 exhibition — Balenciaga: Spanish Master — at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute in New York curated by Hamish Bowles and conceived by Oscar de la Renta. Definitely a favorite.
The Master of Us All: Balenciaga, His Workrooms, His World by Mary Blume (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013)