Pierre Alexandre Claudius Balmain was a French fashion designer born in Paris in 1914. His father was the owner of a wholesale drapery business, his mother and her sisters operated a fashion boutique. Balmain studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, but did not complete his studies. He spent his time there designing dresses. While attending the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Balmain went to Molyneux, who promised to give him a trial. Balmain then left his architectural studies to work for the fashion designer Edward Molyneux, for whom he worked from 1934 until 1939. He joined Lucien Lelong after World War II and opened his own fashion house in 1945. The house showcased long bell-shaped skirts with small waists - a line which later became popular as Dior's New Look. In 1951 he opened branches in the United States selling ready-to-wear clothes. During the 1950s, Balmain popularized the stole for day as well as evening wear and created a vogue for sheath dresses beneath jackets.