Let's Play Balenciaga

During couture week, the crowd talked football while designers stalked Cristobal

As much as the French love fashion, soccer took precedence last week in Paris. Even at the fall 2006 haute couture fashion shows, talk inevitably turned to Zinédine Zidane, or "Zizou," France's World Cup star. Some editors went so far as to sport les bleus--the team's cobalt blue jerseys--in his honor.

If there were a fashion equivalent to the handsome player, it would be Cristobal Balenciaga, above, the great Spanish couturier who shaped fashion from 1937, when he opened his Paris atelier, until 1968, when he abruptly closed it. The designer's rigorous spirit has always hovered over runways, but thanks to "Balenciaga...

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